12 Jun 2012, Posted by bthrasher in athens,music. Tagged athens ga, jason thrasher, skateboarding, thrasher photo and design
One of the lesser known facts about Jason Thrasher is that he’s not just into skateboarding, he still skates. And not just every now and then, but a few times a week. The guy, as you know, is huge, but he throws his 6’2″ frame around like a teenager down hills and at the skate park, yelling at everyone all the while to wear their helmets and pads. That’s how you get to be an old skater he says, by wearing your helmet.
Another little known fact about Jason is that he was one of the thirty or so absolutely dedicated skaters, BMXers, and parents of skaters and BMXers, without whom we wouldn’t have a skate park in Athens. And not just a skate park, but a world-class skate park– a park that is on the must-skate list of national pros and amateurs alike.
About seven years ago, the local SPOA (Skate Park of Athens) user group got together with the help of local officials and Grindline to make it happen. Local artists, musicians and citizens joined in to donate and raise more than $250k in funds to build the skate park we know as SPOA.
Thanks to everyone who helped, now you can drive out to Athens’ east side off Lexington Highway and watch skaters and BMXers do their thing 365 days a year. So, seven years later at the request of the younger (and some older) skaters who really want street skating features added to the park, Jason and his pals are at it again with a series of fund-raisers and events this summer to raise money for Phase Two of the Skate Park of Athens, kicking off with the Didi Dunphy curated skateboard art show which opens at the Hotel Indigo, the Board Room, this Thursday, June 14 at 6:30PM.
Beth and Jason of Thrasher Photo & Design both created boards for the show (that’s Beth’s on the far left, and Rizzie Gallego’s next to hers). Come check it out! Auction will be held later this year…
And, here’s Jason’s “Unofficial History of the Skate Park of Athens”:
The idea for an official skate park in Athens, Georgia was hatched in the mid-eighties. Back then, local skaters were hoping for a wooden half-pipe, but funds weren’t raised and the movement never gained momentum. In the mid-nineties, the ragtag Skate Park of Athens (SPOA) was born in an empty parking lot downtown. Local skaters and BMXers built a series of ramps, which became a favorite session and contest spot for skaters across Georgia. When the lot was cleared to make way for Athens’ new Chamber of Commerce building, the skaters lost their park. For years, skaters endured citations and arrests for practicing their sport on campus, in parking lots, and on sidewalks, but there was nowhere else for them to go.
In the fall of 2002, the idea for an official skate park made the list of possible projects for the new Southeast Clarke Park off Lexington Road on Athens’ east side. Momentum quickly grew, and 200 skaters and BMXers showed up for the first public meeting to discuss the future of Southeast Clarke Park. The skate park had mass public support including the support of newly elected mayor of Athens-Clarke, Heidi Davison. Over the following two years, the SPOA user group overcame opposition by several county commissioners and community elders who eventually grew to respect the idea of a skate park, and in the end, voted for the county to support creation of an official Skate Park of Athens.
The SPOA user group requested and ultimately secured one of the best skate park builders in America, Grindline Skateparks, Inc. of Seattle, Washington, to design and build the new skate park. Over $40,000 dollars were raised through a series of benefit rock shows, t-shirt sales, and skateboard art auctions. The city allocated $200,000 from SPLOST, and the SPOA user group raised over $40,000 through art auctions and benefit shows as well as a $10,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.
The Grindline construction crew was headed by Dave “Shaggy” Palmer, a long time veteran park builder who helped spur the modern skate park movement in the Pacific Northwest. The Grindline crew arrived in Athens in early November of 2004, and the official ground-breaking ceremony was held a few days later with all members of the Clarke County government, shovels in hand.
The Grindline crew worked well beyond the estimated scope of the project, donating their overtime hours. Turns out Shaggy and his crew loved Athens and its welcoming community. As a result of our county’s southern hospitality, Grindline built Athens the best modern skate park in the eastern United States. The Skate Park of Athens was the first in a series of new parks to be built in Georgia. Now, 7 years later, there are six more large, modern skate parks within a two-hour drive of Athens.
Shortly after the grand opening of SPOA, Tony Hawk brought his Secret Skatepark Tour along with a dozen of the world’s best skaters to celebrate the opening of our new park. The event was featured on MTV, and more than 5,000 fans turned out the week after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. At the last minute the demo was turned into a fundraiser for the Red Cross to aid Katrina victims. $10,000 was raised at the park by the skaters, and the local Athens Marriott Hotel matched funds to bring the total to $20,000. Not bad for a bunch of skaters!
This summer, Athens locals are gearing up to raise money for Phase 2 of SPOA. Locals hope to raise $30,000 to make street skate additions to the existing deep and shallow bowls at the skate park.
Events are planned throughout the summer to raise funds, and to celebrate our local skate culture, beginning with this week’s art opening at the Hotel Indigo on Thursday, June 14th from 6:30 to 9:30.
(for a Word Doc version of the Unofficial History of SPOA, click here.)
Stay tuned for more!
Mike Landers has graciously posted photographs of some of the boards (not all were photographed as some buyers took the boards home before they could be shot) from the 2004 and 2005 Skate Park of Athens art board auctions here*
Come see the new art by new artists (and some of the same) at the 2012 show this Thursday at the Hotel Indigo!