Festival hopes to help upgrade aging skate park

ENCINITAS — By most standards, the Magdelena Ecke YMCA is a dream come true for budding young skaters. On any given day, young skateboarders can be airing, grinding and skating right next to the X-Game pros.
“Where else do you get to skate with the best skateboarders in the world?” asked John Kelso, 12, from Encinitas.
The skate park hosted a festival and fundraiser July 9 to help instigate plans to improve the aging park.
In the 21 years since it was built, the Ecke YMCA skate park has become a top destination for hardcore enthusiasts as well as beginners. It’s not unusual to see guys like Bucky Lasik, Pierre-Luc Gagnon and Shaun White practicing their moves at this extreme sport Mecca. That’s because the skate park features one of the greatest vertical ramps in the country. In fact, it’s the same one that was used at the 2004 X-Games.
The 37,000-square-foot skate park is home to the vert ramp designed by Tony Hawk. Hawk has been a figurehead in the industry for years and was the first skater to land a 900 in competition-during the X-Games. Mitchie Brusco, 14, recently landed the two and a half rotations during the Mega Ramp Championship series in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
These days you can find Hawk watching his kids practicing their skating skills and Brusco perfecting his latest trick. Along with the super-sized vert ramp and mini-ramps, Encinitas YMCA offers plenty of quarter pipes, slider boxes, bank ramps, hips, handrails, stairs, euro-gaps, two cement pools as well as a beginner street area.
“This is one of the few places that really has integrated features for every level of skater,” said Michele Kelso, whose three children practice regularly at the park. “It’s very convenient for me because my kids are at different levels in their skating and we don’t have to run around to 10 different places. I really hope they reach their fundraising goal and can keep this valuable resource available to the kids.”
The park opened with little fanfare in 1990. As the sport has evolved and gained tremendous popularity beyond the region, more users are taking advantage of the facility.
“It could definitely use a spit-shine,” said Dale Evans, an Encinitas dad. “We’ve been coming here for years and they are good about making improvements but it takes money.”
To that end, the plan calls for renovations totaling $525,000 to be completed by the fall of 2012.
“I hope they have more events like this so we can all participate in the upkeep of the park,” Evans said.
The ever-popular “Mini-Land” area for beginners is slated for expansion to accommodate the onslaught of new skaters.
“They just keep getting younger and younger,” Darren Brown, 45, said of the multitude of skaters at the event. “When I started skating I was 15 which seems really old to get started now.”
The park is open seven days a week.
Private and group lessons are available. For
more information, visit ecke.ymca.org/programs/skate-park.htm or call (760) 942-9622.

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