Lynchburg Café Hosts Concert to Raise Money for Skatepark
- Lynchburg skating community raises awareness and funds to help keep Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skatepark open.
- Keeping the skatepark open can benefit downtown community as well as skaters, skatepark activists argue.
The White Hart Café hosted a concert featuring two local bands to benefit Lynchburg’s Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skatepark Friday, Nov. 3.
The concert, where bands Xenith and SIN performed, raised both money and awareness for the skatepark, the Save our Skatepark LYH Facebook page said. The money raised at the concert will help buy equipment to hold a street skating event later this year, since the park itself is closed.
The skatepark, completed in 2008, has been closed for over six months and was only open sporadically for the past five years, according to Lauren Dianich, co-organizer of the Save Our Skatepark movement. Local skaters and their families have been trying for months to get signatures, write letters and speak to the city council about the closed skatepark.
While the park is operated by Amazement Square, Inc., the land it is built on is owned by the city, according to an agreement called the Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Lynchburg and Amazement Square. The memorandum states that if the skatepark closes, ownership of the park reverts to the city, but Amazement Square has not relinquished control of the park.
According to Dianich, Amazement Square has been unresponsive to the community’s attempts to reopen the skatepark.
“(Amazement Square says) they care about kids, but how they act about the skate park — once you turn into teenagers, they don’t care about you anymore,” Dianich said. “Our teenagers are our next generation that will be running the country, so we need to show them respect.”
Skateboarding is mostly self-taught, Dianich said, and brings people from all walks of life together.
“Skateboarding is an incredible sport,” Dianich said. “It takes agility, it takes strength, it takes stamina and huge risk-taking.”
Lea Sharpe, lead singer for Xenith, said the skatepark is important to bring both culture and community to downtown Lynchburg.
“It lets everybody from kids to adults express themselves in a sport that’s more artistic than just any regular school sport,” Sharpe said.
Paul and Magen Calland, who live in downtown Lynchburg, attended the concert to support the Save Our Skatepark movement and the local bands. The Callands said they want a safe place for their son to skate, and they have seen the community rally around the Save Our Skatepark movement.
“It’s like when a rock star passes away, all the sudden all their albums become more popular and famous,” Paul Calland said. “Now that the skate park is being threatened to close, more people are coming out of the woodwork to want to keep it open. But I think it really shows you that there is care and need and want for the skate park to be here.”
The skatepark does not just benefit the kids in Lynchburg, according to Jeff Gray, owner of Scene3, a local skateboard shop, and one of the event organizers.
“As a business owner downtown, I see a lot of families leaving, especially the skate community,” Gray said. “They go elsewhere, take their families to other towns and skate their parks and spend money in their towns. Everyone’s talking about getting money back to downtown or getting people to come shop—well that’s a great way to get people back downtown.”
Dianich said skateboarding is a key part of the community, and since the park is already completed, the city should keep it open. Lynchburg’s City Council will vote about the future of the skatepark on Tuesday, Nov. 14, and Dianich wants people to show up at 4 p.m. to show the council that the skatepark is important to the community.
Ryan Massie, drummer for SIN and local skater, said that, without the park, the four members of SIN might never have met. The skatepark is as important to Lynchburg as any other form of artistry, according to Massie, and people should be able to have a skatepark in their community.
“We’re just a bunch of local kids playing music and trying to save our … childhood,” Massie said.