Hangin’ in the Half-pipe

Half-pipes, quarter-pipes, rails and more. At the Naperville skate parks, kids can perfect their skills in a safe environment.

“I’ve been coming here for probably a really long time. I mean, my dad taught me how to turn right over there when I was like eight,” said JC Kuppinger, a local skater.

“I picked up my first board when I was really young,” William Kidera, Coach for Skyhawks, a Naperville Park District summer camp. “My first board was just from a random store. I just started skating on it and kept skating on it until it broke to pieces. From there on just started going to parks, going to camps, spent my entire life on a skateboard.”

Years ago the skateboard community approached the park district. Since they aren’t allowed to skate down streets and the Riverwalk, they wanted a place they could call home, so they worked together, designing the first skate park at Frontier Sports Complex, and later built one in Centennial Park.

“They were involved in every aspect, helping develop the rules, the equipment, everything,” said Brad Wilson, Director of Recreation for the Naperville Park District.

The parks are a way of showing the skating community that the city appreciates them. They even hold an annual skater picnic every Labor Day weekend.

“It’s so nice to have a place for skate boarders to go, “ said Kidera. “The biggest concern is skateboarders don’t have a place to go and things get weird after that. But to have a beautiful park like this, it’s just unlimited possibilities. Everyone can come and have a good time, it’s open all the time, and they accommodate bikers, skaters, skateboarders, and scooters. This is a place where kids can come out, hang out, skate, get better at what they’re doing without doing other stuff all over the city.”

Kidera grew up in skate parks and now uses his knowledge to teach the younger kids as the Director of Skyhawks, a summer camp about the basics of skating.

“I wanted to learn how to skateboard, cause I never knew how to skateboard and I wanted to know,” said Brandon Kunitzer, age eight.

“He teaches us how to balance and go down ramps. I get to go down really high ramps and it’s fun,” said Justin Grossi, age nine.

“My favorite part about skateboarding here, when you’re going down the ramps and you’re going at a high speed, I like when the wind comes in my face. It feels good,” said Aaryan Patel, age nine.

Whether beginners or pros, the skate parks offers something for everyone, including free advice for newcomers.

“If you ever want to learn a good trick you have to start with an Ollie, where your board pops up, and then you’ll be able to do everything,” said Kuppinger.

“Keep at it. You got to keep trying. Even if you fall you get up and keep going. That’s just part of the experience. If you don’t walk away with a couple bruises and scrapes you’re not doing it right,” said Kidera.

Both skate parks are open and free to the public from 8 am until sunset all year round, but will close for bad weather, snow or ice.

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