By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop skate park competition a success
Skate contest organizer Frank Alvarado stands with some of the entrants at the Lathrop Skate Park recently. The event could end up being an annual contest. - photo by Photo Contributed
LATHROP – It wasn’t that long ago that the thought of holding a skate competition at the Lathrop Skate Park seemed crazy.

After a group of vandals extensively damaged the above-ground park that it had to be closed for months while repairs were made, the concept of having a community-wide gathering where skaters, fans, friends, and family could all gather at the site seemed improbable to say the least.

When Vida Loca Skateboard owner Frank Alvarado approached the City of Lathrop about hosting an event there complete with sponsors, prizes, and even an appearance by a legendary pro skater, what was once just a dream became a reality.

More than 200 people turned out for the event that was free to the public and organized as a family friendly outing that Alvarado hoped would both paint skateboarding in a positive light and foster an environment of camaraderie among local skateboarders who often fly under the radar.

“Frank (Alvarado) was really the one who came up with the idea and did all of the organizing from securing the sponsors and the prizes to the volunteers that made it all possible,” said Gabe Goulart of the Lathrop Parks and Recreation Department. “The event couldn’t have run any smoother, and while skateboarding sometimes has a stigma, those involved couldn’t have been more well behaved or better ambassadors for their sport.”

As a lifelong Central Valley resident, Alvarado knew all about what it was like to find places to skate before local governments embraced the movement to construct parks that gave skateboarders a place to be at home.

He not only got a chance to help endorse the sport that has become a driving force in his life, but also had the opportunity to see the friends he used to skateboard with out supporting their kids in an environment that was overwhelmingly positive and accepted by the community as a whole.

“It was truly an amazing thing to see that many people out there supporting these kids and what they were doing – that park couldn’t have held another five people,” Alvarado aid. “I can’t even tell you how many parents came up to me to say thank you for sponsoring something like this – it was amazing and it sparked a whole array of emotions.

“To look out and see the City of Lathrop packed with people from the skateboard world – from local kids to major corporations – was an amazing thing to witness.”

And as if going off without a hitch wasn’t enough, the team that Alvarado had assembled to make sure that all of the garbage was picked up at the end of the day ended up being sidelined after a group of kids approached him and asked if they could take over the job themselves – essentially policing their own park and making sure that it was in better shape when they left than it was when they arrived.

Seeing that kind of dedication meant a lot of Goulart – who left the door open for the event to become an annual gathering that just might make Lathrop a permanent stop on the skateboarding map.

“Gabe (Goulart) pretty much said that we’re more than welcome to come back next year, and that’s a great thing to hear after you get done planning your first major event like that,” Alvarado said. “I couldn’t be happier that things turned out the way they did, and I hope that it’s something that continues.”