Skateboarders in Middle Georgia probably need a bit of an outlaw streak.
There are few places where skateboarders can go and not get hassled by The Man in fairly short order, said those participating in worldwide Go Skateboarding Day in Warner Robins on Saturday.
About 75 youths met up at the Houston County Galleria in Centerville just past noon. They skated in a fast-moving procession across Watson Boulevard, down the sidewalk in front of Academy Sports and Target, then down to Osigian Boulevard and then to Constitution Skatepark. Thats a business with skating ramps inside a building that is the only designated skating area in Warner Robins, the skaters said. The only other one in the region, they said, is the skate park in Central City Park in Macon.
James Vallin, who owns Constitution Skatepark, said he started it about a year ago because the city wouldnt build a skate park. He said he would gladly give it up if the city would build one.
I do it because I love these kids, I love the sport of skateboarding, and I love making sure theres an environment with no drugs and no alcohol, he said. Everybody here is almost like an extended family.
He charges $10 for each skater, and that lets them come in and skate for as long as they want that day. He doesnt make any money, he said, largely because of the cost of liability insurance.
That might be a reason why cities are reluctant to start a skate park, he acknowledged, but he said many that are smaller than Warner Robins have a skate park. He believes the upsides of it outweigh the costs.
Zeke Floyd of Warner Robins helped organize Saturdays skate and has been to Warner Robins City Council arguing for a skate park.
Theres a lot of kids starting and theres no where for them to go, he said.
He said he asked for a police escort for Saturday but didnt get one.
J.R. Lechner carried a large American flag as he skated with the group. He said he has had the police called on him for skateboarding in certain areas, although he has never been arrested for it. He said he has always left if anyone asks him to, but sometimes people call the cops without first just asking him to leave.
Its a little limited compared to other places, he said of skateboarding opportunities in the area. But it could be worse. You just have to be creative.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.