If you haven’t been skating for too long, you’d be forgiven if you thought that cities ceding spaces containing D.I.Y. spots over to skaters was a longtime phenomenon. Sure, there are famous precedents (Burnside, et al.), but even in New Jersey, the location of today’s subject, the reality has often gone the other way. Newark’s Shorty’s D.I.Y. and Fred Gall’s Jody’s Spot were both recently torn down in favor of nothing.
Two weekends ago, Montclair, New Jersey had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Rand Park B.K.A. Candy Courts, for the unveiling of eight skateable sculptures designed by known goat, Alexis Sablone. The former tennis courts were a suburban, Tompkins-like spot that people would bring boxes, flatbars and ramps to — there is even a lil’ graveyard off to the side of mini Element flatbars and plastic ramps you get at sporting goods stores. The courts got increasingly popular over the COVID years, and caught the eye of The Skatepark Project, the non-profit you likely know as The Tony Hawk Foundation (the old name.) They flowed the park $25k and Skate Essex, another nonprofit that advocates for skateboarding in North Jersey, provided additional fundraising dollars.
The result was these eight obstacles, all of which are permanent, cement, designed by Alexis, and built by 5th Pocket Skateparks. It is her first park design in the United States; her first-ever was unveiled in Malmö back in 2018, a place obviously far ahead of the curve on these sort of approaches to public space.
We went once on the opening (too packed), and then again the following Wednesday while kids were in school. Someone described it as what they wished Blue Park was (specifically in reference to the permanent obstacles), but obviously, if this was at Blue Park, the place would be a shitshow. There’s a mini cement quarterpipe, a regular, kinda-chubby flatbar, and a — yes — Straight Fucking Ledge™. For a skatepark with nothing at its edges, it flows incredibly well. And they left all the D.I.Y. stuff alone on the other side! Kinda like a high/low thing, yaknow?
If you’re coming from Manhattan, it is a 30-45 minute drive, depending on traffic. (40% of that will be getting out of the city itself, seeing as how the park is only 18 miles away from Lower Manhattan.) We haven’t gone back on a weekend, but if you have an avant-garde employment schedule, weekdays are your best bet, though definitely time it with traffic, and bring your own beverages + snacks.
Would take 2-3 of these spread out over the city over the next big skatepark they build. not ever park needs a handrail, hip and a hubba.
Are there lights at night? For those of us not avant garde employed?