Calendar challenge: Skating down memory lane

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Erik McElhinny cruising through a crooked grind on a temporary ledge. – Photo by Nick Briggs

I have always been attracted to the skate scene. I come from an area in Brazil where little kids learn how to surf and skate right around the same time they learn how to walk. I grew up with Kelly Slater and Tony Hawk posters on my wall, and last Christmas a skateboard made my wish list. In 1994, there was something about skating while listening to old school Snoop Dogg on my Walkman, even as I fell time and time again, that made me feel invincible.

Last week I was presented with the idea of a “Calendar challenge” from my editor. I was asked to pick an event in the Calendar listings and report back, so naturally I had the inclination to attend the monthly happening at the Martha’s Vineyard Skatepark.

This past Saturday, armed with courage and determination to relive my teen memories, I showed up at the Martha’s Vineyard Skatepark in Oak Bluffs, located across from the high school. DJ Cartel was playing reggae music, little kids were happily skateboarding and biking up and down the ramps, and the organizers were welcoming all who came out to show their support for the skatepark, while distributing free hot dogs and engaging in excited conversations about their ideas for the future of the park, and their memories from the past.

When I asked Nick Briggs, one of the organizers of the event and active participant, how one can learn how to skate, he mentioned the Martha’s Vineyard Skate Drop-In offered at the skatepark. The skateboard clinic for co-eds, ages 7 and up, is held Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm throughout the months of July and August.

The skatepark, partially built in 2003, was initially made possible by a combined effort of Island town contributions and funding from private donors. Although the initial fundraising goal was never achieved, it’s obvious that locals and visitors still greatly appreciate the current free skatepark, and are looking forward to benefiting from further planned improvements.

The fundraising efforts for the park continue through local events, with the sale of hats, T shirts, and stickers, and by a donation jar located at the Green Room in Vineyard Haven. The skatepark organizers will be hosting community outreach events one weekend a month into the fall, and are also planning a booth at the Martha’s Vineyard Sound Festival at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs on July 11 and 12.

For more information about the skateboard clinic, visit mvskate.com. To make a donation online, please visit mvskatepark.org. The Martha’s Vineyard Skatepark is a nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible.