Local Area Skate Parks

The skateboard seemed to spontaneously burst onto the scene in the 1950s as California surfers took roller-skate wheels and mounted them on wooden planks.  The sport grew and eventually companies started to mass-produce the idea.  Downhill slalom or a dance-like freestyle with the skateboard was the activity of choice into the 1960s.

The sport started to fade until the 1970s brought new technology.  Frank Nasworthy made the urethane wheel a standard to the industry; and the newer boards had a low-profile design – it was the smooth ride everyone was waiting for.

In 1978 Alan “Ollie” Gelfand created the famous Ollie maneuver where a skater would kick the back foot down and jump to become airborne.  This trick is still used today and is the basis for most skateboarding stunts.

Skaters of the 1980s started to build their own backyard jumps out of wood and in the 1990s, punk music and fashion gave us the skater look, attitude, and unique vernacular that we see and hear today.

While the modern skateboard will allow riders to travel along any flat surface, such as a driveway or sidewalk, most prefer to test their skills at a skate park.  Today, freestyle skaters like to jump, hop, and skim everyday hazards such as curbs, stairs, and hand rails.  Skate parks offer the opportunity to get off the streets and play in one place with other skaters.  Skate parks are everywhere, indoor and outdoor with nearly a hundred in Michigan alone.

George Leichtweis, owner of Modern Skate Park, tells us that an “average visitor is 8-18, but we have skaters that range from four-years-old to the oldest at 62.”  Most are young men and most use a skateboard.  However, there are women skaters and inline skaters (Rollerblades) that frequent the parks as well.

“We have skate clinics every week, summer camps with top amateurs and professionals in the summer, and private lessons every day at our parks,” continues Leichtweis, “We recommend protective gear and lessons to get started.”  Modern Skate Parks offer two indoor parks, one in Royal Oak and the other in Grand Rapids; both are big venues with a variety of obstacles for skaters to play on.

Beginners and those under 18 would do well at an indoor park.  The standard procedure is for parents and adults to sign waivers and for all riders to wear helmets.  Most visitors also opt to wear knee & elbow pads, as well wrist guards to ensure the best protection.  Most indoor parks will rent protective equipment for just a few dollars.

Von and Linda Gallaher own South Street Skate Park in downtown Rochester.  Linda suggests purchasing “Pro Tec” safety equipment, because it’s the “best in the industry.”  A new skater could buy the helmet, all pads, and wrist guards for under $100.00.  Linda went on to say that “decent boards are $110.00” and run up to “$180.00 for top of the line.”  So, you could rent to start with, but for around $200.00 you could have what you needed to enjoy one of the many skate parks nearby.

Indoor skate parks provide the best amenities, rental equipment, concessions, and supervision.  They start at about $7.00 per session and run up to $25.00 for all-day.  Many offer memberships for those that go on a regular basis.

Outdoor skate parks are usually built by municipalities in conjunction with sponsors, such as Riley Skate Park in Farmington Hills.  This one is all cement, offers a nice deep pool, and is considered the best of the local outdoor parks.  As with most outdoor parks, supervision is not offered and protective gear is not required.  They are often open throughout the year, weather permitting, from dawn until dusk and are typically free to enjoy.

Clinics, lessons, summer camps, and events are offered for many ages and different levels.  Skateboarding is here to stay and there are plenty of options to enjoy one of the many local skate parks.



Local Area Skate Parks

South Street Skate Park
341 South Street


Modern Skate
Royal Oak
1500 N. Stephenson Hwy.
Grand Rapids
3665 28th Street SE Suite D


Riley Skate Park
Farmington Hills
35750 W 8 Mile Rd at Founders Sports Park

 For a complete listing of skate parks around the state vist www.Michigan.org

Michael Dwyer is a freelance writer and travel columnist. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at Michael@RochesterMedia.com

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at michael@rochestermedia.com.

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