Newark skate culture descends on Washington Park for Skate BBQ event

On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, skateboarders from Newark and other neighboring areas converged on Washington Park for a Skate BBQ event.

This was the first time such a skateboarding event has been held in Washington Park, and judging by the turnout, skateboarding enthusiasts jumped at the opportunity to display their moves and tricks on the five ramps the organizers set up on Washington Place directly across from the DJ station, and on the numerous ledges all around the park.

“This is the first year an event like this has been in Washington Park,” said Alfred Catalfumo II. “There’s also the Street League event on Sunday at the Prudential, so it really is perfect timing.” Catalfumo is part of Mental Limited Skates, and was at the event representing his skate team and promoting Street League by handing out vouchers for free tickets to Sunday evening’s event. “I’m just here trying to help and take care of some of these kids,” said Catalfumo about the free vouchers.

The ledges on the side of the Christopher Columbus statue were particularly popular, as skaters lined up to showcase their tricks. The Crook Shove It, Five-O Shove It Out, Hard Flip Backside 50-50, and the No Comply 50-50 were just some of the numerous tricks being performed or, in some cases, valiantly attempted. While some skaters were there to just partake in the environment and have some fun, some were actually signed athletes to different teams and brands.

Gilbert, a skateboarder sponsored by Newark-based Score BRX, was one of the skaters who showed up early to the park. He could be seen skating along the ledges near the light rail platform, using his handmade skateboard courtesy of his sponsor. The founder and designer of Score BRX, James Steven Wilson, could be found manning the grill located near the park's Seth Boyden statue. His company sponsors four skaters, and is all about showcasing the skater lifestyle.

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“I created [Score BRX] really as an extension of my artwork,” said Wilson, who is also an art handler, muralist, and tattoo artist, besides being a skater himself. “We provide a high-end skateboard brand that sells products and apparel.” Wilson looked at the Skate BBQ event as a clearly positive sign for the skateboarding community. “Every generation [of skaters] wants the next generation to skate,” he explained. “There’s more to it than people think, it’s about Visualizing and setting goals, overcoming obstacles, implementing mind over matter, being dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort, and just bending the universe to your will.”

One of the driving forces behind bringing the Skate BBQ event to Newark was Dilettante Bass and his comic-centric company, P.B. Soldier, which was originally based off a clothing line. Bass and his business partner Naseed Gifted, both NJIT graduates, said they'd always wanted to bring an event like this to downtown Newark, and that they were able to make it happen thanks to the help of others.

“We had so many partnerships,” said Bass. “People like the Life Lab, they’re here. Brick City Development Corporation helped with the food and water for the kids, and of course we worked with the city of Newark.”

Bass explained that having a skateboarding event in a place like Washington Park was about keeping the kids safe. He hopes that an event like this can help make more Newarkers aware of the growing skateboarding culture and community in the city. “We want to bring a skate park to the downtown area,” said Bass. “Hoboken has one on their waterfront, New York has a bunch of them, hopefully we’ll have one here.”  (City-operated Jesse Allen Park features a skateboarding facility, part of the park's renovation five years ago.)

While downtown Newark may have to wait to have its own skate park, it did have a major skateboarding event this past weekend. Street League Skateboarding's Super Crown World Championship was held at the Prudential Center for its fifth consecutive year. The Skate BBQ's organizers hope their event will get the wheels turning for a more permanent skateboarding facility downtown.