The Curt Pernice Skate Park in Ripon is not your average skate facility.
It is renowned not only locally but statewide too, attracting professional and amateur skaters alike.
The park has been featured in Thrasher magazine, not to mention in several pro videos that can be found on YouTube.
“If you come here every day, you’ll meet pros because they film videos here all the time,” said Gannan Gaige, a 14-year-old incoming freshman at Gregori High in Salida. Gaige resides in Stockton and ventured to Ripon Saturday morning to skate.
Mitchell Hansen, an incoming Ripon High junior, was the first skater at the park on Saturday, beating the rest of the crowd that eventually filled the park. Hansen has been skating at the skate park, which was built in fall 2001, since his pre-teen years.
The skating complex cost the city $395,000 and was designed by a Florida-based company.
“I just know it’s one of the best in California,” Hansen said. “Everybody comes out here, even pros. I hear Tony Hawk even came out here when it first opened.”
John Cardiel, Mark Appleyard, Steve Caballero and local skater Ryan Carpenter of Stockton are just a few more of the professionals who’ve skated in Ripon, located at 1340 Hughes Lane.
Hansen has also experienced parks in Modesto and Manteca, and even Rocklin’s newly-opened Epic Indoor Skate Park. None of them, however, can compare to Ripon’s, which has a unique style considering it is strictly a “transition skate park”.
“This park is bad,” said Tim Spino, 26, of Manteca. “People from all over the world come to skate here. It’s in videos and magazines. And it’s a “tranny” park, which stands for transitional, but most people call it vert. There’s just a bunch of ramps.
“If you come here to skate, you usually come out here to get some air. Other parks are street (style) with stairs, but it’s a lot smoother here and easier on your body.”
The back wall of the ramp-filled pit is a lot higher than the rest. The ramp can launch skaters as high, if not higher, than a roof of a house, which could be dangerous. A professional skater even broke his leg when the park first opened, according to former Ripon Mayor Pernice. There have also been several concussions suffered at the facility.
It is not for beginners.
“This is not for rookies, you’ll get hurt here.” Spino said. “You want to have a little bit of skill. I’ve skated since I was 13, and as a kid I came up from a poor family. My stepdad used to snap my board in half as a form of punishment. But little did he know, instead of running the streets and stirring up trouble, I’d go out and skate to get all my energy out.”
The park is not only clean and tidy in appearance, but it’s also strategically located behind the police station. This helps prevent most nonsense that can take place at these types of hangout spots for youth.
“Just how they put this together, it’s a nice park and it’s surrounded by grass,” Spino said. “There are cameras all over here. It’s a park you can actually bring your kids or your girlfriend to.”
Spino has also skated parks in Fremont and Patterson. He came to Ripon over the weekend, however, simply because of its proximity to his home in Manteca.
And the fact that it’s considered one of the best in the state.