The warm afternoon sun shone brightly Wednesday on the hundreds of skateboarding fans and local youths who gathered to witness skateboarding legend Tony Hawk’s dedication of the new Willamalane skate park in Springfield.
Hawk’s foundation donated $25,000 to the construction of the street-style course — the first of its kind in the county — after state grants, local firms and local foundations joined skateboarders around the community in raising the remainder of the skate park’s approximate cost of $465,000. Before Hawk and his team performed an afternoon demonstration for their fans, local contributors were thanked for their support and Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken gave Hawk a key to the city, proclaiming April 30 as Springfield’s “Tony Hawk Day.”
“Donating money to this park really shows Hawk’s commitment to local youth,” Leiken said. “We didn’t just give him a day because he’s an icon.”
Hawk shyly accepted the honor of having a holiday proclaimed in his name.
“I don’t know what you’d really do on Tony Hawk Day,” he said. “I guess you’re exempt from school to play video games.”
The program began with an introduction from Willamalane Superintendent Bob Keefer, statements from Willamalane Park and Recreation District, city officials and Friends of Willamalane, the group that spearheaded fundraising efforts. Gavin Keable thanked everyone who helped make the park possible on behalf of the Skatepark Task Force, which was created three years ago to design and develop the park.
Excavation for the skate park, designed by Purkiss Rose-rsi,
began in October. Hyland Brothers Construction crews built forms and started pouring concrete in February. Willamalane Public Affairs Specialist Janet Donnelly said the task force had worked with Hawk for the past three weeks to arrange the dedication.
Adam Amato Emerald
Tony Hawk greets skateboarding fans at the Willamalane skate park dedication.
“This is the first event like this where Hawk has given money, dedicated a park, performed a demonstration and offered the whole thing for free,” she said. “Usually an event like this would cost money.”
University junior Nate Jackson, a member of the Duck U broadcast team, said he was impressed with the park and Hawk’s contribution to it.
“Hawk is awesome,” he said. “Not everybody gives back to the community like that.”
After the dedication, a local team sponsored by Boardsports skate shop joined Tony Hawk and friends in a skateboarding demonstration to test out the new park, which features rugged concrete stairs, rails and urban skateboarding challenges resembling picnic tables. Hawk said the park’s high design standards and the grassroots fundraising were factors in deciding to donate the grant.
“We chose Springfield because of the efforts of the skaters from the beginning,” he said.
Looking ahead to a documentary on his contributions to skate parks, Hawk said he will continue to help fund them as long as organizations make donations.
“My donations come from my demos, so as long as I keep doing demos, I’ll fund parks,” he said. “And we are always looking for other donors.”
Contact the reporter