Youngsters work hard, fly high at Bethel's Skate Park
“I’m dropping in for another run” said 18-year-old Eric Eramo of Newburyport, Mass, launching off a cement lip in the Bethel Skate Park. Like many others that clear, sunny day, Eramo is here to have fun, and hone his skills.
Teens – but not only teens – were doing just that: fine-tuning tricks, defying gravity.
“People drive up to three hours just to skate here. I have seen people all the way from my hometown,” Eramo said.
But its not all fun in the park. At the edge a group of kids gather. Under the supervision of Dave Bean, most of these skaters are here to practice the skills they use on the Gould Academy Skate Team.
They huddle and listen as he tells them: “ We want you to be working on something, it doesn’t matter what that is, but pick something and work on improving it”. With a clap of the hands everyone picks up their gear (helmets required) and heads back to the skate park.
Bean designed the Bethel Skate Park, which opened in the fall of 2009. Materials came from several local businesses, with a sizable contribution from Savage Brothers Contractors.
This day in the park teens take to the air, young children make their attempts in the less crowded sections. Everyone falls, gets bumps, bruises.
In the middle of the activity stands an imposing sculpture, over which 17-year-old Jake Hall takes flight. He lands, says “I can do better!” and comes back around to try again.
The skate park comprised two areas – the main area, a concrete bowl resembling a swimming pool (right down to a drain) and a smaller, quieter section for people to practice in.
As the day wears on the stunts get more intense, but not everyone has come to skate today.
Fifteen-year-old Natalia Portuondo, from Spain, is on the Gould Team, she is recovering from a concussion (sustained while skating) and limits herself to watching. “I come to support the team,” she said.
As the sun sinks the teens heat up, launching themselves into the air, leaving the world briefly behind, to soar above the park.
Then it's back to earth and a metal skittering stop on the edge of the bowl.
At this point there are no lights for after-dark activities
The Bethel skate park accepts donations from the community for its development – including, one day perhaps, lights.
Donations may be made to the Bethel Town Office C\O Skate Park, P.O. Box 1660, Bethel, ME 04217.