BRATTLEBORO -- Andrew Clark is used to seeking out legal sites around Brattleboro for skateboarding or traveling long distances to get to a skatepark, so he wasn't going to let humid, 98-degree heat get in the way of an afternoon of riding.
Clark, 16, was one of dozens of skateboarders who showed up at the Crowell Park Thursday afternoon to try out new tricks, show off a little, and celebrate the sport with the thousands of others who were taking part in International Go Skateboarding Day, which takes place every year on June 21.
Go Skateboarding Day started in Southern California in 2003 as an informal excuse to take the day off work and support skateboarding.
This year activities were planned from San Diego to Ecuador to Tokyo to Brattleboro.
Clark, who said his brother had received a ticket for skateboarding in the streets from the Brattleboro Police Department, said Thursday's gathering was an important show of support for the people in town who are working to raise the money for a skatepark.
"We need a place where we can go, out in the fresh air, where we're not going to get in trouble," Clark said while taking a break. "If we can raise the money I think we can do it."
The town of Brattleboro has approved the plan for building a skatepark in Crowell Park, but the Selectboard is asking supporters to raise the approximately $300,000 needed to construct the cement skatepark at the Crowell Lot.
The town has sent out a request for proposal for designs for the new skatepark and a committee will start looking over the proposals after the July 11 deadline.
Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte said the committee has already raised enough money to hire the design firm, and after a successful bid is chosen, designers will start working with the town to draw up a plan for the new 10,000-square-foot park.
According to the RFP, the town is looking for up to three concept design alternatives, and the winning design firm will be expected to present its designs to the public during a community meeting.
At Crowell Park Thursday skateboarders lined up behind each other for a turn on the ramps, rails and step that were set up on the park basketball court.
Skateboard Committee Chairman Marty Vallender said that while the annual Go Skateboarding Day is a good opportunity to help spread the word about the efforts to bring a skatepark to Brattleboro, it is also nice to take a step back from the fundraising and enjoy the sport.
Beside the oppressive heat Thursday, it was perfect day to ride and skateboarders and supporters came by all afternoon to cheer on the riders as they attempted jumps and tricks.
With the group just approaching the one-third mark on its efforts to raise the money Vallender said it can get frustrating and discouraging to consider how far the town still has to go to get the money needed to start pouring concrete.
But after more than a decade of trying to secure a site, and win the town's approval, Vallender said the design RFP marked a huge turning point for the group.
"Each short term goal helps us see a clear path to our long term vision," Vallender said. "We are grateful for every small donation. This has been a learning experience for all of us."
After a firm is selected, and the committee has drawings to show, he said he expects more support to come in as the concept becomes clearer.
And as skateboarders continued gliding across the asphalt basketball courts, Vallender said Thursday's gathering showed why it was important to continue fundraising.
"This is a celebration for us. It helps us refocus our energies on the real reason why we are here," he said. "Watching these kids show their passion refills my soul. It reminds my why we need to do this."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer .com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 279.