Fayette County

New group raises money to build more skate parks in Lexington

Sisters Erin Cruse, age 20, and Allison Cruse, age 19 (left to right, both of Lexington,) look at art work during the Friends for Skateparks "Skatepark for a Day" fundraiser and art exhibit at Land of Tomorrow Gallery  in Lexington on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Photo by Mark Ashley  13519
Sisters Erin Cruse, age 20, and Allison Cruse, age 19 (left to right, both of Lexington,) look at art work during the Friends for Skateparks "Skatepark for a Day" fundraiser and art exhibit at Land of Tomorrow Gallery in Lexington on Sunday, February 26, 2012. Photo by Mark Ashley 13519 Herald-Leader

An art gallery became a temporary indoor spot for extreme sports Sunday as a new group raised money to build a another outdoor skate park in Lexington.

The group, Friends for Skateparks, had raised nearly $2,500, its initial goal, by 2 p.m. and hoped to raise an additional $5,000 before the event ended at 9 p.m.

"We've seen some very generous donations land into our drop box," said Jonathan Ware, president of Friends for Skateparks.

The group was formed last summer with the purpose of creating more skate parks in Lexington, Ware said. One possible location would be Berry Hill Park on Buckhorn Drive in southwest Lexington.

When Woodland Skate Park opened in 1999, it was the only one in Kentucky. Now there are more challenging parks in Bowling Green, Frankfort and Louisville.

"If you were to go to Woodland today, my guess is you'll find a very crowded spot," Ware said. "You can only have so many people at one time. ... Given the size of this city, given the number of skaters in this city, there is certainly a need for greater facilities."

Put another way, a city the size of Lexington should have 40,000 to 80,000 square feet of skate park surface, but it has about 12,000 square feet, Ware said.

Skate parks in Georgetown and Frankfort are just as good as Lexington's, said David Wu, father of skater Micah Wu.

"I know it's not a competition. But if we had one basketball court for all the basketball players in Lexington, that just would not be right," David Wu said.

Wu and others said skate parks can be destinations for out-of-town and even out-of-state visitors, who will sometimes sample several municipal skate parks on one trip.

Sunday's event, at Land of Tomorrow Gallery on East Third Street, had a small skate park set up with quarter-pipes and other obstacles so skaters could showcase their skills to pounding hip-hop music. Skate-related art and photos were for sale, and there was a silent auction of various items and services.

Adam Kinney, 22, said he attended the event because he loves the sport he picked up 10 years ago.

"Friendship. Brotherhood. It's all what it's about. We take care of our own," Kinney said. More parks are needed, he said, because "it gives everybody something to do, you know?"

Travis Baker, 17, said he wanted to show his support because "skateboarding is my life, man, every day.

"If it's raining outside, I'll go to where there is a picnic area with a roof over the top," Baker said. "I'll skate flat there if I have to. If not, I'll go to a skate park. It's a way to relax. It frees up your mind. If you've got a lot of stuff going on, you go skate and it takes everything off your mind."

Fund-raisers like Sunday's event can demonstrate to skaters, who sometimes feel disenfranchised, that they can make a difference, Wu said.

"That's an exciting thing because your typical skater is like, 'Oh, yeah, I'd love to have a new skate park, but there's no way,'" Wu said.

"But with the adults and the older skaters and the people with their connections — I mean, your average kid that can't give 2 bucks might have a grandma that can give $5 or $10. If we love our citizens, then we should treat them just as well as the families that are promoting" youth soccer or other activities.

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