Skaters of every stripe flooded Paine's Park for its opening day festivities on Wednesday afternoon.
"While I always trusted that we would get here...There's nothing quite like the real thing," said Claire Laver, executive director of Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund as she surveyed the crowd assembled on the park's curving steps to celebrate the park's dedication.
While politicians, project designers, and Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund representatives gathered for remarks and a ribbon-cutting, many skaters paid little mind, testing out the new park’s features and proving that skateboarders and the rest of us can share this new park. Still, Paine's Park was so packed in the heat of the afternoon that those of us not on wheels had to look both ways before trying to move through the space. (One skater evidently collided with Council President Darrell Clarke as he walked on site.)
For Philadelphia’s skateboarding community, it’s a major victory to see Paine's Park finally open more than 10 years after skaters were banned from LOVE Park and chased off of Dilworth Plaza.
"I thought they made LOVE Park interesting and exciting," said Governor Ed Rendell who supported efforts to build new skateparks in the city during his years in offce. His son Jesse Rendell is a board member of Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund.
Paine's Park's prime location sends a powerful message about making room for youth culture in Center City and on the Parkway, places where teens especially might feel less than welcome.
“This is two and a half acres of fun,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. "It's clear that we need more of these kind of parks."
Someday, Laver said, when more segments of the Schuylkill River Trail are completed people will be able to skate between Paine’s Park and a new skatepark currently being built at Gray’s Ferry Crescent.
For board president Mitch Bormack, Paine's Park puts the eyes of the skateboarding world back on Philadelphia, the same way LOVE Park drew worldwide attention years ago. And it's not hard to imagine, he said, ESPN trucks lined up to film a "homegrown, completely Philadelphia" skateboarding competition at Paine's Park in the not-too-distant future.
Here's what opening day looked like:
Video/Graphics by John Suvannavejh