By T. Scott Boatright
Wheels of all shapes and sizes rolled through the Sexton Parking Lot at the Old Historic Fire Station in Ruston Saturday afternoon to raise support and awareness for Skatepark of Ruston.
Scores of skateboarders, roller skaters and scooter riders of all ages and walks of life zipped around obstacles and over ramps set up in the park for the event.
Skatepark of Ruston founder Joey Slaughter said that the city of Ruston has agreed to match dollar for dollar for $250,000 in grants the group hopes to raise to build a skatepark at the site of the old city municipal pool located on Memorial Drive in Ruston.
“We’re just kind of raising awareness and let people know how much this is wanted and needed,” Slaughter said. “The more people that see and know about it, the more I hope they’ll feel people need a safe place to skate. We need this culture in our city. It’s a very creative culture. We have an alligator ramp made out of a boat. There’s a lot of creativity involved. And it brings music and art into the culture, too.”
Slaughter had artists renderings of the proposed skatepark on hand at Saturday’s event with some of that work done by students with Louisiana Tech University’s School of Design.
“We just got a (renowned skateboarder) Tony Hawk grant for $10,000, and that support is huge for us,” Slaughter said. “That name alone adds a lot of legitimacy for us. If it works out the park will include an entryway with corporate sponsors and a communal area before you get to the park area just for people to be able to get together and have fun. We’ll have an area for pop-up activities for kids. The Boys and Girls Club is next door, so we hope to do things with them, too.”
Slaughter said he feels the need for the skatepark is there.
“We have kids who don’t play baseball and don’t play soccer, but are involved in things like this,” Slaughter said. “The city has spent so much money on baseball and those kinds of things, and that’s all needed and great, but I want to offer another option for kids from all kinds of different backgrounds who just aren’t into those organized sports kinds of things. That’s the goal. There’s so much more to it than just skateboarding. They have fun together and teach and help each other and give each other tips.
Former Tech student Grant Talley, who now attends the University of Louisiana-Monroe, was on hand for Saturday’s event.
“For me, it’s like a community,” Talley said. “Before I didn’t feel a part of something, but the people I’ve met doing this — it’s really united everybody, which you don’t find all that often nowadays. I only started a year and half ago and the friends I’ve made doing this mean a lot to me. I love doing this.”
Slaughter said more events are planned to raise money and awareness for Skatepark of Ruston are planned for the future.