By Dale Cory
If you build it, they will come.
If you give it lights, they will hang around longer, and likely stay out of trouble.
“It’s nice to have lights now because it gets dark earlier. You can hang around longer and practice more,” pointed out 14-year-old skateboard enthusiast Cody Pambrun of Ponoka. “I’m glad they built a skateboard park here because there’s not a lot in the area. It’s a good place to come and hang out and have a good time, especially if you are a skateboarder.”
Thanks to the Rotary Club of Ponoka, the Hamilton Skateboard Park located along 50th Street in downtown Ponoka now has a light, allowing skateboarders to use the park until at least 11 p.m., at which point the light will turn off automatically. Skateboarders also have the ability to manually turn on the light upon entering the skateboarding area.
“Ponoka Rotary became interested in improving the lighting in the skateboard park because our members observed that the use of the park was particularly limited during the spring and fall times of the year,” explains Gerry Hildebrand who spearheaded the initiative on behalf of the Rotary Club.
“Many of the recreational and sports-based organizations in town are reasonably well-organized and supported. However the skateboard park users are simply there because they enjoy the challenge of the park and the opportunity of friendship with other park users. Enhancing the use of the park in spring and fall by adding lighting was something that could be done with Rotary’s limited resources and would facilitate the extended hours for park users.”
Youth practicing their jumps one particularly hot day last week were very happy to find out their park usage can now be extended well into the evening.
“It allows skateboarders and bikers to come out later, and you can see where you are, so you don’t crash,” says Johnny Boehme, who lives in Lacombe. “It will make it a lot brighter, especially when it starts getting darker closer to winter.
Because Lacombe doesn’t have a skateboard park, Johnny, 11, frequently gets his mother to drive him to Ponoka to skateboard here.
“Kids can be seen by people driving by and so you just feel safer as a parent,” added Johnny’s mother, Dory-ann Boehme.
“I like the park because you can do lots of runs. You can do a series of tricks,” added Johnny. “I like it because it’s got of mixture of things, and it’s not just one basic ramp.”
An energy efficient light was recently installed by In Town Electric, with cost of the project coming in at $4,600. That total included a $2,000 grant from Rotary International.
“The people that supported the original development of the park agreed with the notion of added lighting, as did the RCMP, so we are very comfortable with our decision to support this group of young people,” added Hildebrand. “We hope that the park users and their family and friends find that the addition of lighting to the skateboard park really makes their use of the park more enjoyable.”
The Ponoka Rotary Club would like to take development of the area a step further, and is looking to create a bike park, adjacent to the existing skateboard park.