“This is fantastic,” Bill Wight said enthusiastically. “This is the best thing that has been done for the kids in a while.”
The rain held off Friday, July 26, as excited area youth headed to the Cloquet skatepark grand reopening event located on 14th Street with the promise of free food and demonstrations as well as contests.
Wight and his wife, Cheryl, were in the Twin Cities for their grandson, Kaleb Wight, earlier that morning. Kaleb, 13, had moved to the Cities from Cloquet before the skatepark was built several blocks from his grandparents' home.
After his lacrosse game, Kaleb's grandparents quickly drove to Cloquet in time for him to skateboard.
The Cloquet Area Fire Department handed out free helmets, Cloquet police distributed treats and vendors set up booths at the skatepark event.
The main attraction for the approximately 40 youth in attendance was the action on the ramps as well as 3rd Lair, an indoor/outdoor skatepark in the Twin Cities that emceed the event.
Oskar Barrett, the emcee/manager for 3rd Lair, said he was impressed with the Cloquet Skatepark and is hoping more will be built in the Twin Cities.
While some adults murmured comments about the majority of the kids not wearing helmets, other attendees mentioned how the skatepark is a positive investment for the kids and community.
Most of the kids who fell bounced right back up. While some adults winced when the youth hit the pavement, some of the kids were laughing as they fell, rolled over and stood up.
Several individuals who worked for many years to get a skatepark built attended the event. Some, such as Brady Hall and Riley Into, pitched their case for a skatepark to the Cloquet City Council in 2015.
The group of teens working toward a new skatepark fluctuated over the years. Before approaching the council, the group held over 20 fundraisers, obtained grants and outside funding to collect about $8,000 over a 10-year span.
Hall and Into performed skateboard tricks during the event Friday. Into won a new skateboard for his efforts.
“It’s an amazing feeling coming back and seeing new generations having everything we hoped for as a younger kid,” Into said. “I can tell it has had a positive impact on the skateboard/scootering scene as well as the community all together. It warms me to see how many kids are giving skateboarding a chance now and enjoy it.”
The event was not only geared for skateboarders, but also youth on scooters.
Placing first in the scooter trick contest was Taylor Wick, 14, of Cloquet.
“It feels great,” he said with a huge smile.
Brock Peterson, 16, enjoyed showing his skills on the scooter. Jumps and spins were punctuated with slides down the handrail.
“I have been here every day for weeks,” Peterson said.
Tyler Wise, 19, likes to skateboard during his free time. With his work schedule, he only manages to get to the park about once per week. While skating, he noticed a newcomer, 12-year-old Jace O’Mary, and how hard he worked to improve in the 1 ½-month timeframe between picking up a skateboard and the reopening.
Wise gave O’Mary one of his skateboards.
“I wanted to do something good for the community and wanted to acknowledge how much he improved,” Wise said. “The skatepark is great; the town really needed it. I like how it brings the community together.”
Boldt also donated $5,000 toward the 6,000-square-foot skatepark that now features quarter pipes, handrails, banked ramps a bowl, stairs and a ledge. The roughly $420,000 park was paid through local sales tax funds, like the other area parks.
“It couldn't have gone better,” Cloquet Community Education Director Ruth Reeves said.