Skateboarders' arms, knees and backsides amassed black-and-blue constellations as they repeatedly hit the concrete at the Familia HQ Indoor Skatepark and Shop in Minneapolis.
Skaters as young as 8 were among the more than 500 people who came out to support the skateboarding community at the E. Hennepin Avenue indoor skate park last weekend.
Over the years, Minneapolis' close-knit skating community has thrived despite a lack of sites at which skaters can practice their gravity-defying ways. Now, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is working with skateboarders to draft ideas for future parks. City of Skate, a local group of skateboarding advocates, is partnering with the Park Board on its activity plan.
Kyle Henkler, general manager of 3rd Lair SkatePark and SkateShop, said Minneapolis is far behind other cities. "The public skate parks are kind of laughable," he said. "It's unfortunate that our city doesn't have a central impressive skate park."
By summer's end, the Park Board aims to set guidelines for meeting the needs of the skateboard community. As a first step, the board studied results from a 2013 survey that had 1,339 respondents.
The majority of skateboarders surveyed, who often skate in neighborhoods in the city's central, Northeast and University Avenue areas, said they would prefer to skate in the Calhoun-Isles, Nokomis, Powderhorn and Longfellow areas.
The Park Board has six public skate parks — Elliot Park, Creekview, Bottineau, Brackett, Morris and Armatage, all installed in the 2000s.
"We know that we probably need to expand the services we're offering the skaters," said Colleen O'Dell, a Park Board planner and designer. "Right now, the indoor skate scene has more to offer for more advanced skaters."
The skateboarding community's growth can be attributed to private parks such as 3rd Lair and Familia, skaters say.
"The skate parks invested in 10 years ago were implemented rather poorly," said Paul Forsline, a City of Skate member. "We're trying to correct that."
The skate park at Elliot Park has undergone some changes. After the city put in an artificial-turf soccer field, the skate park was moved and the board worked with skaters to change the concrete pad to improve the flow for skateboarders.
Skate parks are also a part of the Park Board's master plans for Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park and Northeast Athletic Field Park. The board estimates that a skate park in Nokomis Park would cost about $500,000.
O'Dell said that as soon as funding becomes available, the board will begin building skate parks at the two sites.
Rather than skate in city skate parks, skateboarders often head to properties where they are not permitted to skate, Henkler said. That creates problems for police, who often receive trespassing calls, said police spokesman John Elder.
Scott Oreschnick said that when Cal Surf, his Minneapolis skateboard and snowboard business, hosts an event, it's often held at the Maple Grove Skate Plaza or 3rd Lair because city parks are insufficient.
Yet while skate parks are better in suburbs like Maple Grove and Eden Prairie, they still don't offer enough for skaters, he said.
St. Paul spent $350,000 to redesign its Front Skate Park into a plaza-skate-style park in 2014. And the city's Arlington Arkwright park's skate park is now under construction.
"We have a desire to have skate parks in all different sections of our city," said Jody Martinez, design and construction manager for St. Paul Parks and Recreation.
Gary Ream, president of the International Skateboarding Federation, said skateboarding is growing everywhere. "You can't fully represent an American family without a skateboard," he said.
In a 2014 interview, talk-show host Larry King asked skateboard legend Tony Hawk which city had the most underrated skating culture. Hawk replied: Minneapolis.
Mike Munzenrider, well-known in the Minneapolis scene, said: "A lot of people make skateboarding into something that matters around here. I don't see the growth slowing down [at] any point."
Other cities are finding space for skateboarders. Chicago unveiled its Grant Park skate park in 2014, and Madison, Wis., is now constructing a $980,000 skate park.
Forsline hopes Minneapolis will soon have its own central skateboarding park.
"Skate parks are a huge opportunity to provide something new, safe and active for youth," he said. "Twenty years ago Minneapolis was not known for biking, and now it's known for biking. I would like for it to be known for skateboarding."