OC skaters didn’t let a sand-filled skate park stop them from having fun

City of San Clemente filled skatepark with sand Thursday evening. (Connor Hedges/Lariat)

The City of San Clemente took extra measures at Ralph’s skate park off of La Pata on Thursday by filling the skate park with 37 tons of sand. This came after closing city beaches and parks earlier in the month to prevent citizens from gathering and redirecting them to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I showed up to the skatepark Thursday afternoon only to find the entrance to the parking lot was gated off with “skatepark is closed” signs,” skate park regular, Aiden Finch said. “I’m bummed that my friends and I never got a heads up from the city…”

Only days after sand was placed at the skatepark, Connor Ericcson, a famous motor cross videographer and San Clemente resident posted numerous pictures and videos of people riding dirt bikes inside of the skatepark on Sunday afternoon. Ericcson was the one who led efforts to help the skaters remove all of the sand out of the bowls with shovels and buckets to try and help them get back on their boards.

See some of the footage from what Ericcson did below where he called out the city for putting a damper on many skaters life during quarantine:

The city originally placed “skate park is closed, no trespassing,” signs throughout the skate park but that wasn’t enough to stop skaters from congregating at the park. This is when city officials took matters into their own hands, copying what other cities were doing which was filling skate parks with sand. Cities that have done that thus far are Long Beach and Venice Beach. This was the most effective option because it’s nearly impossible to skate in sand.

According to the San Clemente Times, “Samantha Wylie, the city’s recreation manager for the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Department, explained that since closing access to all parks on April 1, skaters continued to visit Ralphs Skate Court despite posted signage warning against trespassing.”

Josh Navarro is someone who has been skating in various cities skate parks for years, was very bummed to hear of the extra measures that the city had to take to stop skaters from coming in initially. 

“The funny part to me is that it takes them literally pouring tons and tons of sand into the park to keep skaters from physically cruising in,” Navarro said. “I am kind of mixed on the decision they made. I understand the precautions they’re taking to stop people from grouping together, but if it was still open, I would probably skate it.”

Navarro had a feeling that many people would rebel against the sand being placed in the skate park but didn’t think it would be as extreme as people riding dirt bikes in the bowls. He continues to skate during lockdown as he is trying to get some fresh air outdoors and relieve some stress. It is unfortunate that he can’t skate at city skate parks, but he has found many different parking lots and paths to skate to satisfy his itch to hop on his board.

Due to all of the uncertainty of COVID-19, it is unclear when non-essential businesses will re-open their doors again, let alone city skate parks.