By Ryan ZumMallen | Long Beach Post
Young Long Beach Skaters at the opening of the 16th Street Skate Park earlier this year. The Tony Hawk Foundation announced today that it will benefit the construction of a new skatepark nearby. Photo: LBPost.com
The foundation of world-famous professional skateboarder Tony Hawk has chosen a Long Beach skatepark to be the beneficiary of proceeds from its annual pledge-drive at the Tony Hawk: SHRED Presents Stand Up For Skateparks fundraiser in Beverly Hills this October.
Similar efforts in the past have raised upwards of $50,000 to $80,000 to build skateparks in low-income communities.
McBride Park is located in Central Long Beach at 16th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, just across the street from Long Beach Poly High School. The park has been planning construction of a 10,000-sq. foot skatepark and funds from the Tony Hawk Foundation drive are expected to boost that effort.
"We are honored and excited that the Tony Hawk Foundation has chosen McBride Skatepark," said 6th District Councilmember Dee Andrews. "The additional funding will allow us to provide a world-class skate park for the community. Helping us give kids an alternative to the streets is what the project is all about. With the Tony Hawk Foundation in the mix we have the opportunity to create even more energy, excitement and pride from the kids and the community involved in the skatepark."
The pledge event will be held on October 17 in Beverly Hills and is themed as an action-sports carnival with live music and professional skateboarders and BMX riders performing tricks on Hawk's own personal ramp. Since 2002 the events have raised $3.2 million to construct 463 skateparks across the U.S.
"This is a huge and unexpected honor," said Mike Donelon, a former Long Beach City Councilman who founded the Long Beach Skatepark program and has also been an integral part of the effort to construct the 16th Street Skatepark. Donelon has been involved in the effort at McBride Park for more than one year. His work has brought him close to the Tony Hawk Foundation.
"THF has been more than generous with their time and giving us skateboard decks, wheels, clothes and other items for our raffles and give aways to the kids. The selection of Long Beach speaks volumes for our Mayor, City Council, and our Parks, Recreation and Marine Department's support of skateparks and most importantly, the kids that ride them. Long Beach recognizes that skateparks work. They are a deterrent to gangs and give our at risk youth an alternative to the streets."
The event will be held at a private estate this October, and both Andrews and Donelon will escort a group of young skaters. Long Beach has created a reputation as a skateboarding mecca in recent years, particularly for youth of all cultures in a sport that is predominantly white. A recent documentary focused on the phenomenon - for lack of a better word - of black skaters in Long Beach.
"Long Beach has a strong history in supporting youth who choose skateboarding and BMX as their sports of choice, " said Tony Hawk Foundation Executive Director Miki Vuckovich. " Over a decade ago the city's leaders took the initiative to provide these safe havens for kids to go , ride, and remain engaged in something positive and healthy. Tony and our Board of Directors is proud to have the opportunity to share Long Beach's story and show our support in this way."