Winter Skaters and They Love it…

first_imgOcean City High School freshmen (from left) Griffin Hageman, A. J. Oves, Mitch Bartello are regulars at the skate park, regardless of weather.Frigid Weather Won’t Stop SkatersThey built it and they did come.When the Cape May County Skateboard Park opened in Ocean City last fall, it was an instant hit with local skaters, and visitors alike. That really wasn’t a surprise.But when the weather turned cold, they continued to show up. And the City continued keeping the venue open for them.“This park is amazing,” said Keith Nolen, a 29-year-old salesman who drove to Ocean City from Havertown, PA on his day off Friday with the thermometer dipping into the mid-teens. “It’s cold, yeah. But I’m skating.  My job has a lot of stress and pressure.  Being here takes the pressure off. I told my friends I was coming here today and they were like ‘What are you crazy?’”Nolen, who said he has skated all the best parks in the Philadelphia region, heard about Ocean City on social media and “massive word of mouth,” and he had to try it. “I rented a place for the weekend in Sea Isle and this was right on the way.”So did it live up to the hype? “Oh yes…for sure,” he said.Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian and City Council formed a collaboration with the Cape May County Board of Freeholders and the Open Space & Farmland Preservation Council to make the park a reality. An Open Space grant provided $500,000 of the cost and parking revenues helped offset the remaining $250,000.  And the skateboard park was built. And the skaters arrived.“I am out here to be physically active and to have fun,” Ocean City resident Kevin Humes, 42. “The park gives us something to do every day and it’s free. I am not really into running and I’m not big on weights,” Humes said. “When I go to the gym I might hit the heavy bag a little bit.  But I like to have fun along with my workout. “During the winter, the park is open from 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM, weather permitting.  The earlier hours, while school is still in session, belong to the older guys, like Humes.  “They call us dinosaurs,” he said.Humes was away from skating for more than 20 years, he said. But when he watched the park’s construction happening in his hometown, he knew that he would be getting back into the sport.  It was not like riding a bicycle, he said. “Everything you do in skating is about conquering your fears,” Humes said.On most days in the winter, the park’s vibe gets much younger around 2:30 when school lets out. That is when attendance triples and the young regulars arrive, impervious to the conditions.“It means a lot,” said Mitch Bartello, 15, an Ocean City High School freshman. “(Having the park in town) is the best thing ever. I don’t care if it’s cold.”His buddy A.J. Oves, 14, echoed the sentiment. “I look forward to it every day. Coming here is great. It’s not crowded like when it’s warm.”“It’s just fun,” said Griffin Hageman. “The whole park. Hanging with my friends.”The next day’s forecast called for even colder temperatures, but that didn’t mean anything to Mitch. “I’ll be back tomorrow.  I’ll be back every day.”last_img

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