Skateboarding was born in the 1950s when surfers wanted to bring the ocean to the streets. The term “sidewalk surf” became the norm by the 1970s and rose rapidly to what it is today.
Unfortunately, skateboarders are often portrayed as loiterers, slackers, vandals and nuisances based on a stigmatized outlook from society. In reality, these athletes actually define the limits, turning an unconventional sport into a subculture that incorporates tricks, friendship and fun.
“I am happy with what skateboarding has done for my life,” Turlock native Adrian Barr said. “But people think of us as a bad influence. I’ve had cops come up to me and start telling me to get back to the wrong side of town. That isn’t what we’re about.”
Barr first moved to Turlock when he was 9 years old and couldn’t find much to do to occupy his time. Once Barr met a new friend, he was introduced further into the sport of skateboarding and never turned back.
“It is the best thing you could do. As long as you are serious about skateboarding, any skateboarder will help you. It is like an art form and it is about having fun,” Barr said.
Merced native Nick Baur has been skating the last four years and attests that he was nothing more than a “poser” at first, but soon started a friendship with skaters because of their ambition and camaraderie.
“The stereotype on skateboarding is wrong. These kids are good. When they land a trick or do something awesome, everyone will clap for them, even if you don’t even know them. It is nice to hear my friends yell, or give me props when I land. It’s a bond, even if you never see them again.”
These local athletes have skated just about everywhere, including Sacramento, San Francisco, Turlock, Patterson, Modesto, and Merced.
Ceres Skate Park
Currently, Barr’s favorite local place to skate with friends is at the Ceres Skate Park, a 16,000-square-foot park with rails and “street scape” features located in Smyrna Park at Moffett and Fowler.
If traveling northbound from Fresno of CA-99, take exit 222 for Whitmore Avenue, where the park is nothing short of a block away. If traveling Southbound from Modesto, take exit 229 off Highway-99 for Carpenter Road towards Whitmore Avenue.
Local skateboarders are used to traveling, and will even go between counties to visit their favorite skate park. Baur, 21, was found skating at a skate park in Patterson Wednesday afternoon despite living in Merced.
Patterson Skate Park
Patterson’s Skate Park is one of the newest installments, and therefore a favorite amongst the local skating community. It provides bowls, rails, steps, and slopes to accommodate amateur and veteran skaters.
If traveling north from Fresno on Highway-99, take the West Main Street exit towards Patterson. Main Street will turn into Las Palmas, where you continue straight until you come to the corner of Ward and West Las Palmas where the park is located.
Unlike a soccer field or basketball court, a skate park is harder to come by. To avoid the streets and trouble with the law, skaters dedicate themselves to traveling between parks for variety and friendship.
“I always go on road trips with my friends. We like Patterson because of the bowl. It also has nice hand rails. It gets boring staying in one spot for a while,” Baur said.
Ricardo Saldana and Adrian Contreras also carpooled from Merced to Patterson, but believe the 40-minute drive is always worth the distance just to get in a good day of skating.
“It may be a drive, but that is how you get to meet people,” 19 year old Saldana said. “At the end of the week, we come together and put like $5 in just to go to the park.”
Many non-skaters ask, ‘All this just for a few hours of skating?’ But according to 18 year old Contreras, falling on concrete is just another outlook on a life lesson.
“When I fall, there is something about it. It gives you that drive to get up and do it again, like any real-life situation,” Contreras said.
— BROOKE BORBA
209 staff reporter