Skateboarders from across the Mid-South gathered at Hernando on Saturday to show off their best “5-0”, “inverted”, “gray slips” and other moves to help raise money for building a new addition to Pidgeon Park.
The skate competition was organized by Hernando Skates, a non-profit group of skateboarding enthusiasts who helped raise funds to build the skate park in 2015.
The park was the dream of Edward Pidgeon, a longtime activist from DeSoto County who undertook the skatepark project in memory of his brother, Frank, who committed suicide in 1968 at the age of 17. Pigeon passed away in 2019, but his vision to expand the park continues.
Miranda Williams, who joined Hernando Skates in 2005, said she is raising money to fund Phase 2, which will add a plaza-style skate park alongside the existing one.
“It’s a bowl style park,” said Williams. “The square is more of a streetscape. There will be handrails, benches, curves. We will also add landscaping to it to match what is already in Renasant Park.
Williams said they would apply for a grant of $ 150,000 through the Mississippi Department of Parks and Wildlife, the same grant that allowed them to build the first phase.
Hernando Skates was instrumental in securing the city’s first $ 100,000 park grant and helped raise $ 50,000 on her own to build the 6,000 square foot structure.
“It’s an 80-20 grant,” Williams said. “So we are responsible for the remaining 20%. In a year, if we get the grant, there will be a second park here.
Williams is no skateboarder, but shared Pidgeon’s take on the need to build a facility where children could skate and have fun in a safe environment.
“I grew up here in Hernando, and when I was in high school it was illegal to skate in town,” Williams said. “You couldn’t get on the sidewalks. The children would have their boards removed. I have had several friends who took the wrong path looking for a place to skate. A lot of times they ended up in the wrong part of town with people who weren’t the best. So for me that was the inspiration to get involved. If I can help a child not to take the wrong path, it is worth it. “
Pidgeon Park has gained an excellent reputation among skateboarders and attracts users from as far away as California and Oregon who come to Hernando specifically to skate in the park.
“I get messages all the time from people all over the place that they love this park,” said Williams. “When you walk in, it feels like you’re surfing the ocean.”
Titus Gillard, who is 22 and has been skating since the age of eight, came from Tupelo to compete.
“This park has the most transition and flow compared to other parks in other areas,” said Gillard. “I’m glad they’re having a fundraiser to get more stuff out here.”
Gillard competed in the advanced or “non-beginner” category.
“It’s good to see everyone here pushing each other and everyone getting a good height and a few tricks,” said Gillard.
Competition judge Kris Gilley said they are looking at the kind of tricks contestants try to determine who will advance to the next level.
“We sort of judge them against themselves,” Gilley said. “We skated with some of these people and we really saw enough of them today to know the things that are difficult for them and the things that are easy for them. We can tell when someone is pushing hard and showing real technique. “
Ian Smith, a skateboarder from Southaven, said it was a fun contest to play with a good mix of tricks.
“It’s fun to see what other people can do,” Smith said.
Smith, who has lived in Colorado and California, which are known for their world-class skateparks, said he was grateful to Hernando for having such a good facility.
“Being able to come back to DeSoto County and see a park like this is amazing,” said Smith. “It’s done in a very professional manner. It’s a word class skate park in my mind.
The contest raised approximately $ 1,000 and the winner walked away with a new personalized skateboard and other prizes.