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How to Plan a Public Skate Park Grand Opening Event

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2017 at 1:33 pm by Yann Curtis

Attention all City Planners, Parks Directors, Event Coordinators and skatepark advocates. Now that your community has its first public skatepark development underway how does the City celebrate? Admittedly a skatepark's opening is something most people have not organized or planned before. After all it's not a typical sports field complex or walking trail. Get ready because a skatepark's grand opening event can be one of the most well-attended, action packed ribbon cutting events a community has all year. It's a time to celebrate the sport of skateboarding, support healthy living through positive, physical activity and a chance to 'wow' the community with the successful use of tax payers' money. Just think, what other public park facilities does the City have that caters to the mostly tweens-to-twenties aged demographic? Below you'll find questions and answers to typical issues we at SPA Skateparks are asked regarding skate park grand opening event planning.

Before we get started - check out these two videos of really well-executed skatepark grand opening events.
City of Arlington - Vandergriff Skate Park - Grand Opening Video
City of McKinney - Gabe Nesbitt Skate Park - Grand Opening Video

Who usually attends a skatepark grand opening event?  
As with any type of event planning it's important to understand who will be there. A skatepark caters to a variety of user groups. And they will all be there, itching uncontrollably to celebrate the skatepark's long-awaited grand opening. In recent years the word "skatepark" has even been substituted by "wheeled sports plaza" and other similar terms to be more inclusive of bikes, scooters and (to a lesser degree) inline skates who also use the facility. Properly designed and contructed public skateparks handle acknowledge all these user groups. Things such as metal detailing, preferred terrain types and lines of traffic are considered for each type of rider. Finally, don't be surprised when a large thirties-to-fifties contingent show up completely prepared to spend the entire first day at the skatepark. 

So who else comes to a skatepark on opening day - other than the actual skaters?
Naturally there will be plenty of parents. Creating that ever-important first impression of a safe environment for the community's youth is paramount. This is the place where their kids will spend lots of time and meet life-long friends. Everyone here at SPA Skateparks can personally attest to that. Siblings and friends will also be there - some by default and some by choice. In general, people will want to sit safely and comfortably in the shade, with facilities nearby and with good views of all the skatepark action. Finally, it goes without saying that all the City officials, staff members and who have worked so hard to green-light the project in the first place will be there with big smiles.

What day and time should we schedule the skatepark's ribbon cutting event? 
Here's the short answer - Saturday at 10 - 11:30 am. Why? It's typically the same time parks and recreation departments host any other new facility's opening event. A skatepark grand opening day is no different in this regard so 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. It's not too early. It's not too late. It's just right. Keep the 'official' part of the day short and sweet, but make it count. The actual ribbon cutting should happen promptly after speeches and acknowledgements by City and public representatives. Keep in mind that skateboarders are pretty much in torture by this point. Think of some alternative ways to "cutting" the ribbon. How about a group of skaters skate through it?

How should the actual day's events play out? 

  • 10:00 am - 10:30 am - Speeches, acknowledgements, inform the public of the City's skatepark programming (skateboarding lessons, volunteer skatepark hosts)
  • 10:30 am - 10:50 am - Ribbon cutting
  • 10:50 am - 11:30 am and onwards - Music, swag give-aways, drinks, food... Feel free to call us for some good ideas!

Should we host a demo on the first day of the skatepark's opening?
In our experience if a demo is planned for the skatepark's first day of operation it should be held much later in the day. Don't get us wrong. Demos are great. Beginner skaters can really get inspired to see what is possible. However, it cannot be stated enough that a skatepark's opening day is for the local skateboarders, bikers and scooter'ers to enjoy THEIR park. After the ribbon cutting event skaters should be able to skate for at least a few hours. Don't forget that demos can happen anytime too. There's always the opportunity to plan it in week, a month or a year's time from now. Shoot - having demos, contests and other events can and hopefully will be a normal part of the skatepark's activity. 

What else should we do to capture the excitement of our skatepark's grand opening day?
Document the grand opening! Have the city's photographer on the case. What about having a drone photographer take some shots at amazing angles? Post it all on the City's website.

Should we specifically invite anyone to the skatepark's opening event?
To answer this question, another question should be asked. Is the City wanting to have an event solely for the local community, or invite others from the surrounding area? If your town doesn't already have a skateshop, there's a good chance one will pop up in the near future. If you do have a local skateshop, then certainly make the effort to personally invite them. Skateparks and skateshops are the hubs of the skater scene. If you build it, they will come. Make sure they know about it!

In summary - Now that the skatepark is open, what happens next? 
We've briefly gone over some skatepark grand opening event topics. So without going down the rabbit-hole of skatepark operation we'll keep summarize by saying this - Implement the City's skatepark-specific maintenance plan. Keep it clean and enforce the skatepark rules. Although your concrete skatepark is built to function for a long time, just like any other capital improvements project, it does have a life span. So why not start budgeting yearly for it's replacement when the time comes?!  Call SPA Skateparks about skatepark maintenance pointers and development of a customized service agreement. 

Happy skating!

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