Over this past weekend, a concrete state of perfect harmony existed for a few hours at a place called Jackson Springs; well, actually the Northwest Skate Park in Jackson Springs. While the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation celebrated its grand opening back in April, the skate park — the third of its kind in Hillsborough County — officially entered the game on Saturday with the Rock the Rails Contest and Concert series.
- Skaters zip through the air in a celebratory convoy following the Rock the Rails Contest and Concert series held on Saturday at the Northwest Skate Park in Jackson Springs
The event was the brainchild of the park’s recreation program specialist, Raleigh Barnes, who also was instrumental in getting the Northwest Skate Park created. Barnes took a “chitchat conversation” with the county’s surplus manager at a leadership conference and turned the dream into a reality on Saturday when a little over 50 skaters competed at the park's first sponsored contest.
“We tossed some ideas back and forth and we were able to build something that is exciting for the skate community,” Barnes said. “There were some kids that were a little nervous, but I tried to encourage them to get out there and try it. The worst they could do is, well, not do it.”
With music from band the Hanging Chads blaring in the background, more than 50 participants competed at the California-like park in four different age groups and one trick competition. Competitors in groups divided into ages 8-and-under, 9-to-12, 13-to-15, and 16-and-up took advantage of the pristine set-up that includes transitional elements and features ideal for street skating, including granite ledges, rails, a keyhole, and a snake run.
- Tampa resident Darrell Gordon, 24, took home top honors in the trick competition at the Rock the Rails contest in Tampa this weekend.
Barnes emphasized the contest couldn’t have happened with the help of the work staff at the park center and the multitude of volunteers. In addition, Barnes appreciated the sponsors that donated prizes for the winners, including Steezy Grips, Become Legend Not Trend (B.L.N.T) skateboards, Six Starz Skateboarding and Surfing, Sunny Fluff Skate Shop, On Board Progressive Training, and Barnes himself, who donated the podium for the winners to stand on and the rail for the trick contest champion.
The trick contest was “kind of an impromptu thing” after all the regular competitions were completed. Local resident Darrell Gordon, 24, won the trick contest and Dimitri Rangos won the 16-and-over street division.
Gordon, who started skating seven years ago, reveled in the type of atmosphere at the contest, with a mix of ages and races competing. He was enjoying his first competition since returning a couple months ago from a broken collarbone that he suffered when he was hit by a bus while riding a bike to work.
“Seeing everyone be able to skate and enjoy the vibe is what it’s all about,” said Gordon, who played football in high school. “It’s not like football, boss. It’s something that anybody can do, however they want to do it. That’s what’s beautiful about it. It’s everybody’s art and emotion. I love it. There’s nothing like it.”
- St. Petersburg resident Jackson Prouty was one of the many fans and participants that came out to watch and enjoy the Rock the Rails skating competition on Saturday.