RIDGWAY — People passionate about their community have rallied together to bring a new skate park back to Ridgway.
A chicken or rib barbecue dinner fundraiser will be held at Elk County Foods at 1 Baker Alley from noon-5 p.m. Thursday. Funds will help put the finishing touches on Ridgway’s new skate park, which will host its grand opening at noon Saturday.
Stevie Gustafson became a member of the Ridgway Recreational Association a little more than two years ago. She has helped with organizing fundraisers and informing the community about the skate park’s progress, she said.
The North Mill Street park has been headed by former health teacher and Ridgway wrestling coach of 38 years Gary Gerber, who also helped build the first skate park in Ridgway. Gerber’s son is a professional bicycle motocross (BMX) rider.
“I promised the kids I would help get them another skate park,” he said.
The community donated supplies and machines for volunteers to use during the building process, Gerber said. Ridgway Borough Council donated a parking lot near the community pool, across from the Ridgway YMCA.
“I got to know the community and the kids who are into it,” he said. “I want to keep our kids busy so we can protect them, and make it a safe place where they can have fun.”
The park will include a small riding area for children and bigger jumps for experienced riders.
Gustafson, a Ridgway native, said she believes bringing the skate park back will “breathe new life” into the community and inspire new youth activities.
“The kids and young adults in our community were really lost when the original skate park was taken down, and it was evident that a skate park was a staple for them,” she said. “This new park will give kids of all ages a place to go and ride and remain safe at a centrally located venue.”
It has been inspiring to see everyone chip in to help, Gustafson said.
“Countless people have given everything from a couple of dollars on up to several thousands of dollars,” she said. “Whether it was monetary donations or the giving of time, resources, talents, trades, blood, sweat or tears, this was truly a community project.”
The barbecue will help with the park’s final pieces, such as cleaning supplies, garbage bags and signage, Gustafson adds. The RRA also plans on purchasing a few helmets for children who don’t have one. The park rules require those under 18 years of age wear a helmet.
The skate park will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and is a “ride at your own risk,” Gustafson said. Everyone hopes to see patrons do their part in keeping the park clean and free of trouble.
“Everyone young and old is invited to come out and enjoy the park,” she said. “We are all very excited for the familiar sound of bikes hitting the ramps to return.”