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Jacksonville’s Skatepark Celebrates 40th Anniversary

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Serena Summerfield
/
WJCT News
Kona Skatepark

Jacksonville’s Kona Skatepark is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It’s the world’s oldest privately owned skatepark, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The concrete park opened in 1977 and has seen famous faces like Tony Hawk and Mitch Kaufman skate through. Kona Skatepark owner Martin Ramos said his parents dedicated the park to the youth of Jacksonville.

“It’s about the culture that comes around Jacksonville. That culture that transcend the act of just riding a skateboard. Because it influences music. It influences art. It influences surfing,” Ramos said.

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Credit Serena Summerfield / WJCT News
Skate decks at Kona

He said skateboarding in Jacksonville is more than just Kona, and more than 20 professional skateboarders have come out of Jacksonville in the past 40 year. Dave Herrell , sports and entertainment officer for the city, said Kona is a Jacksonville icon.

“When you come to a place like this you’re gonna have a great time, whether you’re 8 or 80, this is a place you can find that connection. It’s beyond just a venue; I think it’s a spirit. It’s a culture,” Herrell said.

The park features concrete hills and a “snake run,” where guests can take a seemingly infinite number of paths. It’s even recreated in a level of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 game.

Even Councilman Bill Gulliford, who has been working with local skaters recently to find acceptable plots of land for them to use, tried skateboarding.

“In 1966, I got on a skateboard. It had a plastic board. It had roller skate trucks and wheels and I went down the medical center hill at the University of Florida and I wiped out badly midway down it and that’s when I quit skating,” Gulliford said.

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Credit Serena Summerfield / WJCT News
Kona Skatepark

But he said one of his sons frequently went to Kona growing up. He feels the tradition will continue as a tradition for the whole community.

The celebration will be June 22-25 with barbecues and skate competitions. There will also be live music and skateboarding legends like Dave Duncan, Steve Olson and Tony Alva.

“Let’s show how unique Jacksonville really is, and let’s show how this community made a difference,” Ramos said.

Listen to this story on Redux

Intern Serena Summerfield can be contacted at 904.358.6317, newsteam@wjct.org, or Twitter @sumserfield.