With the sun beating down as rap and punk blared from two towering speakers, skateboarders of all ages swarmed Apex’s brand-new Rodgers Family Skate Plaza on Saturday.
The grand opening began at 10 a.m. and continued throughout the day. Food trucks served lunch, and a team from Wake Orthopedics gave out safety gear to anyone who showed up without it.
About 300 people were there from the beginning, including close to 100 skaters.
One of them was Marlon Campbell, 20, a Cary resident. He said he usually goes to the skate parks in Cary and Durham but is now going to come to Apex instead.
“This is a better park,” Campbell said.
He was far from the only one with glowing reviews of the new park, which is free to skate.
Joe Dewberry often tries to get some skating in whenever he goes on a business trip. On Saturday, the 45-year-old network engineer – who has been skating for the past 40 years – said this park is one of the best he’s experienced in all his travels.
“Small things, like the concrete, are all really well done,” he said. “You can hear the wheels gripping. There’s no smooth spots anywhere.”
Smooth spots in the concrete can lead to wipeouts, so that kind of attention to detail is good for safety.
For now, only skateboards – no bikes, scooters or roller skates – are allowed at the park.
Helmets, elbow pads and knee pads are also required at all times at the park.
Several skaters smacked into one another within just a few minutes of the official opening Saturday, unwittingly demonstrating the sport’s potential for injuries.
Anyone who breaks the rules, either by skating without safety gear or bringing something other than a skateboard onto the plaza, can face a $25 fine and a potential ban.
Three generations of skaters shared the park Saturday morning, with middle-aged guys, 20-somethings and teens, and even some youngsters on boards as big as them.
A group of kids who looked no older than 10 almost immediately conquered the 8-feet-deep bowl, whipping around the sides to build up speed and get enough air to complete a spin or some other trick.
“I never thought I’d see this in Apex,” said John Brown, the director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources who started working with the town 30 years ago. “It’s great.”
The $1 million skate park received about $300,000 in private funding, an uncommon show of community buy-in for a public park.
That included $100,000 from John Rodgers, the local mortgage lender for whom the Rodgers Family Skate Plaza is named. Kyle Dennis, owner of the Apex Outfitter and Board Co., also pitched in $20,000.
“Show me the money,” Mayor Bill Sutton quipped as he took an oversized cardboard check from Rodgers during the festivities.
There’s still fundraising efforts going on, too – with the goal of raising about $80,000 to build a pavillion that could host live music and other shows.
Visit www.apexnc.org/485/Trackside-Skate-Plaza for more information on park rules, or how to donate.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Want to skate?
Where: 1250 Ambergate Station, at corner of Hunter and Salem streets
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. March-October, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. November-February