St. Pete Regional Skatepark | Photo courtesy of the City of St. Petersburg
By Ramona Mitchell, 16, Youth Farm Participant
Skateboarding in itself has become a community that I and many others around the world have chosen to go into. It allows me to feel free and it is one of the best ways for me to cope and express myself.
The skate community in St. Petersburg is full of amazing people. They all love and care for each other; it’s like one big family. There are spots in St. Pete where skaters can go and do their thing, such as St. Pete Skate Park and possibly a couple of other places, but the eligibility of skating in some areas like downtown seems limited in many cases.
Just as there are places where we are eligible to skateboard, there are many more places where it is prohibited. One of those areas is the St. Pete Pier. The pier is where everyone can go to have a fun time — you can ride the electric scooters downtown through the pier, mopeds are available, and so are bikes — but no skateboarding.
I don’t think there is a clear answer as to why skateboarding is prohibited because, if anything, with scooters and mopeds you are just as likely or even more likely to hurt yourself or someone else. The skate community seems so confined in our city, and even though skaters always find better places, what happens when those places prohibit skating too?
Another place that doesn’t allow skating is the downtown Mahaffey Theater. Again, I haven’t heard a clear reason as to why it isn’t accepted in that spot, but on the other hand, guess what is allowed there: mopeds, electric scooters, and bikes, which are far more dangerous than skateboarding.
I interviewed a couple of people on this topic, and both came back with the same answer: “it isn’t fair.” If a skater were to get hurt on the property, they would get right back up and try again. It’s our choice as skaters; none of us would give up on something we’ve been trying so hard to learn.
If you wouldn’t like to be held accountable for the unharmed action taking place, then simply just don’t make yourself a part of it.
Skateboarding is a lifestyle for many people, for some, an escape. Keeping us confined and excluded won’t make us less motivated in this community; it will just push us to find creative ways to do what we do. This family of skaters is wholesome; we’d like to go wherever this culture takes us despite unfair stereotypes excluding us. We do what we do because we like it, the same as anyone else in the City of St. Petersburg, whether on bikes, scooters, or mopeds.