Skateboarding has always been a sport associated with punk rock and rebellion all over the world. In America when people think of skateboarding their minds tend to go to California, where both skateboarding and surfing are common pastimes for many teenagers. Skateboarding it is also a popular hobby out here on the East End.
There are at least six different skate parks throughout the North and South Forks, all with different attributes. On the North Fork there are two parks, one in Riverhead, and the other in Greenport. The Town of Riverhead Skate Park, located in Stotzky Park on Pulaski Street is split into beginner and expert sections, each with equipment corresponding to the skill level. The park has a wide variety of equipment, from half pipes, which are u-shaped ramps with a flat section in the middle, to fun boxes, which are a variety of ramps connected together, to a street course complete with rails and speed bumps.
The Greenport Skatepark, which is on Moore’s Lane has its own street course and a specific type of half pipe called a vert ramp, so named because its walls are completely vertical at the top. The Greenport Skatepark is pretty popular with younger kids, who seem to spend a lot of time there after school.
Across the Peconic Bay there are even more parks, in Hampton Bays, Southampton, Amagansett, and Montauk. The one in the Hampton Bays is in Red Creek State Park. Just like Riverhead, Red Creek has a specific beginner section, as well as a half pipe and street course. Further east on Abraham’s Path is the Amagansett Skatepark, which has half and quarter pipes as well as a street course that people of all ages can practice on. Montauk City Statepark is the skatepark furthest east on the Island, located on South Essex Street all the way out in Montauk. This park has a variety of rails, bowls, half-pipes, and even a pool, all to serve skaters at any level of experience.
Many communities across America protested against the creation of skateparks in their neighborhoods for fear that the parks would increase crime, but skateparks actually have a different effect, giving kids and teenagers something positive to do with their time. Skateparks are also extremely beneficial in the promotion of safer skating. According to the Pediatric Emergency Care website, less than 5% of skateboarding injuries occur in skate parks, for many reasons. Most skating-related injuries are due to irregularities in the riding surfaces. Skateparks are of course designed specifically for skating, sans irregularities. When skating on the streets, skaters deal with traffic and pedestrians, as well as surfaces that just weren’t meant for skating. Skating in public areas is really unsafe.
Bo, a skater who lives in Sag Harbor Village told me, “If there was a skate park here the younger kids would definitely use it. Now it’s cooler for older kids to wax down a railing—but it’s really dangerous.”
Overall, skate parks offer far safer conditions, because in addition to being created for this particular purpose, there are also a lot of safety regulations in the parks. On the streets, there are no rules forcing skaters to protect themselves. Helmets are required in all of the parks on the East End and most of places require padding, with Greenport being the only exception.
It is a really good idea to wear padding when you skateboard. Full padding includes wrist guards, kneepads and elbow pads, which all help to prevent scrapes and broken bones, especially on bigger ramps and half-pipes. Although skateparks are a lot safer than skateboarding in the middle of the street, injuries can still occur.
East End skateparks serve as the perfect place for kids to make friends and have fun, all in environments that are both safe and convenient for the skaters. They offer kids a place of their own.