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In the News Index

Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: June 3, 2005
Byline: Madeline Davis


Skateboarders to get 'wild' in city streets

Several hundred skateboarders are going to be churning through the streets of Philadelphia June 21 to call attention to the sad state of the sport here in what was once a mecca for skateboarding enthusiasts.

Amateurs and professionals will be rolling side by side in what they're calling a "Wild in the Streets" demonstration that promoters hope will acquaint the city with the fact that since LOVE Park was closed to them, skateboarders here are an endangered species.

It is part of a worldwide Go Skateboarding Day, sponsored by the International Association of Skateboard Companies, but Philadelphia is an important focus because of the LOVE Park controversy.

Sponsors expect between 500 and 1,000 skateboarders to take part. Sponsored by Emerica, the skateboard equipment and clothing company, the local event is expected to have "little or no impact on traffic," organizers said.

Mark Waters, of Emerica, said the event was designed to "take away some of the barriers between the pros and the kids." Emerica sponsors a professional skateboarding team.

Waters said another purpose of the demonstration is to "empower youth and get them thinking that they have the ability to change things."

He said the skateboarding demonstrators will carry signs reading, "Free LOVE Park."

Waters said that in organizing Wild in the Streets, his company contacted City Hall, but Mayor Street "wouldn't have anything to do with us."

Street has been adamant in keeping LOVE Park closed to skateboarders, even when Sam Katz, his opponent in the last mayoral election, said he favored reopening it to the sport.

The city spent $1 million to renovate the park, installing grass medians, wooden benches and pink trash cans where skateboarders once thrilled to the ledges, steps and curves on which the sport thrives.

LOVE Park, designed in 1964 by architect Vincent Kling and formerly known as JFK Plaza at the terminus of the Ben Franklin Parkway, is little used these days.

The Wild in the Streets participants will meet at two of Emerica's stores in the city, Elite, on South Street near 6th, and Nocturnal, on 6th Street below South.

They will be given maps of the day's skate locations and will take off from there.

Justin Wood, of Elite Sports, said there are reports that a number of world skateboarding champions will take part.

Wild in the Streets began in New York City last year as a kind of "unorganized form of civil disobedience," Waters said.

More than 700 skaters participated there. He said this year's event in Philly will be "all that and more."

For more information on Wild in the Streets, check out emericawildinthestreets.com.

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