Skaters can now roll back into the area’s largest public skate park – and based on the sold-out skate sessions on Friday when the Etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest opened back up to the public for the first time since March, it was a place greatly missed by local skaters.
“For so many kids, this is their life,” said Scott Stewart, the city’s senior recreation supervisor.
Parents called daily asking about reopening dates, Stewart said, but guidelines from the state had been unclear. When the skate park was set to open in July, employees had to cancel when word of tightening restrictions came just a day before the planned opening.
But clearer guidelines for skate parks, including safety protocols, were released recently as playgrounds were opened again, allowing the city to plan for skating again, he said.
Some of the region’s skate parks had previously opened, including a smaller one in San Clemente that drew controversy during the pandemic when city officials filled the park with sand to keep skaters away. Volcom Skate Park in Costa Mesa opened up at the beginning of the month. Some skate parks, including the Vans indoor skate park in Orange and its outdoor skate park in Huntington Beach, remain closed.
At the Etnies Skatepark, there will only be 50 skaters allowed into the area at a time, about half of the normal capacity. Skaters have to make reservations and sign a waiver before entering the outdoor, 62,000-square-foot skate park.
“There’s definitely more than enough room for six feet of distance,” Stewart said.
The other typical COVID-19 protocols are also in place, including required face masks and workers sanitizing the park throughout the day.
“It’s always been a staffed facility, now staff has a different role as far as following up on safety protocols and masks,” city spokesman Jonathan Volzke said.
Hours of operation have also been adjusted, so people headed to the park should check the new schedule.
Benches and tables have been spaced out throughout the park to ensure people don’t congregate next to one another, and skaters who do not follow social distancing will be removed. Multiple offenses will result in revoking access to the park, according to the facility’s website.
Lake Forest had received clearance to open about a week ago, but an already scheduled photo shoot for the Etnies shoe brand delayed the opening, Volzke said.
“We were itching to get the skate park open as soon as we could,” he said. ‘We know our skate park is very popular, not just with the residents, but with the skaters throughout the area.”
Skating can be a form of self expression and relieve anxiety and stress for kids both young and old, he said.
Stewart echoed the importance of skating for mental health, especially as some kids might be struggling with changes in schooling and being away from friends or other stresses brought on by the pandemic.
“A lot of them don’t realize it’s a meditative thing, they are focusing and not thinking about outside issues. You think about what you’re doing, but you’re zoning everything else out,” Stewart said. “I think it’s really healthy for their mental state. I think there will be a lot of happy people, a lot of happy parents too.”
Hours of operation: Weekday hours are noon to 8 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Prices: Day pass for residence are $3 or $5, depending on age. Non residents pay $6. Annual passes are $50 for 17 and younger, $100 for 18 and older.
More info: etniesskatepark.com
Source: Orange County Register