Date: August 18, 2001
Byline: Marty Bernoski
No Love in Love ParkPHILADELPHIA -- Every town or city across this great nation, it seems, has had to make a decision on how to handle skateboarders on public property. The debate has been decided in Philadelphia -- skateboarders lose.
So where's the love? Apparently not in Love Park, located just west of City Hall. Better not dare to skate at Love Park or you'll face the wrath of Philly's finest. Ride the fine ledges, boardslide the numerous rails and you could be fined up to $300. Plus your board might be confiscated to boot. The city wants you to ride your board on the street or sidewalk -- not along the delightful terrain that surrounds Love Park and adjacent municipal properties.
This nice sign was paid for by the citizens of Philly.
Two young kids, helmets on and boards in hand, were just about to hit Love Park on Saturday morning when a police car summoned them to come over. After a quick chat with the lone officer, the pair of skateboarders turned around and left. No questions asked. The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, says that most of the time the cops just tell the skateboarders to leave the park -- and they usually oblige. Once in a while they have to chase them out, but, in general, they haven't been giving out many fines since the city clamped down on skateboarding last fall. According to Officer Anonymous, most kids don't even know they're not allowed to skate there. The riders who do come to the police car when asked probably aren't from the area, the officer chuckles. And those who elect to flee -- well, they know about the fines.
The cops keep a close eye on Love Park.
The irony of it all? Ask Kerry Getz, who won a pair of medals Aug. 11 in the Street and Street Best Trick contests held at the very park where skateboarding was banned. A few weeks leading up to the events, Getz was skating in the park and got chased out by cops trying to issue him a ticket. According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Getz said he got pushed onto a car by the police. "He told me to stop running," the 26-year-old skateboarder told the Inquirer. "I said, 'No way. You're going to give me a ticket.' I told him that I was in the contest they were holding there in a few weeks. He didn't seem to care."
Even with the passing of the X Games, it appears City Hall's stance on skateboarding will not change. The expensive-looking bronze plaque informing skateboarders of fines up to $300 probably won't be coming down anytime soon.