HANFORD — Ohio punk band Legbone once pondered in the song, “Skatepark:” “Where were the skateparks when I was 13? Now they’re everywhere — even on TV.”
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary celebration of the Hanford Skatepark at 415 Ford St. and skateboarder Mark Ince remembers the days before the park was open and the huge impact it had on the Valley skateboarding community.
“Back in 1997, when we got word that there would be a skate park, it was a big deal,” Ince said. “There weren’t a lot of public skate parks in California or in the United States or anywhere for that matter. Skating was a lot different back then.”
The Lemoore native is helping to organize a birthday bash for the skatepark including skating competitions, raffles and prize giveaways and free food and drink provided by Hanford Parks and Recreation. Ice cream will be provided by Rolling Cones.
About a year ago, while visiting with friends, Ince realized that the 20th anniversary was coming up.
“We were just talking about how big of a deal that was in our little world at the time and thought about maybe having a reunion of sorts.”
Ince reached out to Hanford Parks and Recreation, who agreed to help and the anniversary party is scheduled for Saturday, April 28.
The celebration was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed due to rain.
In addition to regularly skating at the park in high school, Ince said he was also active at planning meetings while the park was still in initial stages.
The park was a skateboarding hub, Ince said. Not only were skaters from all over the Valley flocking to the destination, but skaters from the Bay Area and Los Angeles would pop in as well. Pros would skate in Hanford on their way from one end of the state to the other on tour.
“It was an exciting time when we got that park. It brought a lot of people together and it was an important place growing up,” Ince said.
The competitions begin with an 11 a.m. registration. Competition begins at noon and the contests will include wall rides, time trials, tricks and more.
“We have the skateboard contest, which is kind of a young man’s game, so hopefully a lot of young skaters from around the Valley will come out and do their best,” Ince said. “So I assume it will be a mix of older skateboarders and young kids.”
The winners will be announced at 2:50 p.m., as judged by Valley skateboarders J.R. Benson, Tylorr Rodriguez and Ivan Perez in addition to other surprise guests.
“Some of the legendary Kings County skateboarders will be coming out to judge and partake in the event. Parks and Rec will be serving hot dogs and serving drinks. It’s just a day to celebrate the anniversary of the park,” Ince said.
Prizes given out during the day will include skateboard decks, wheels, T-shirts and more according to Ince.