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Skatepark now open in Wilkes-Barre

Pablo Forllan is silhouetted while doing a bike trick at the new skate park.
Aimee Dilger
Pablo Forllan is silhouetted while doing a bike trick at the new skate park.

Bikers, skaters and scooter riders of all ages and skill levels dropped in for the grand opening of Wilkes-Barre’s new skatepark.

“We’re shocked at the amount of people that are here,” said Kevin Czekalski, chair of the skatepark committee. “After 40-some years, finally, we have a skatepark.”

Czekalski knew people had been anticipating the Wilkes-Barre City Skate Park at Hollenback, but the size of the crowd at the grand opening surprised him. The parking lots at Hollenback Park were full throughout the day as skaters and bikers arrived to try out the new ramps.

Sha Murray does a trick off the smaller ramps at the new skatepark.
Sha Murray does a trick off the smaller ramps at the new skatepark.

Debbie Flores of Pittston brought her skateboard to the opening. She’s been skating for about 6 months, and would travel to Bloomsburg to try some of the ramps and rails now available in Wilkes-Barre.

“It’s a really nice park,” she said while taking a break. “I definitely will get more practice in.”

Czekalski owns Plains Bike Shop. He said local skaters and bikers had asked the city for a skatepark for decades.

“This has been going on since… the 70s, and not just in Wilkes-Barre but other communities as well,” he said. “We’d get so far and then they’d shoot it down.”

Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown reached out to Czekalski to start this project three years ago after the city had to take down a makeshift park skaters had built on a tennis court.

At the opening, Brown said while the makeshift park had to be removed due to liability and safety concerns, he promised the skaters who were maintaining it that there would be a skatepark in the city.

“Now you have a place to come,” he said. “This is your park.”

Czekalski says what the park has to offer now is only phase one - with continued support from residents and officials, he hopes to see the park expand as skating sports grow throughout the state.

“We’re one of 365 skateparks in the Commonwealth right now, and they’re growing every year,” he said. “Two years ago there was only about 110, so they’re picking up very rapidly.”

The Wilkes-Barre City Skate Park at Hollenback is open daily from dawn until dusk.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of All Things Considered on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.
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