David Derrick, board member of Skate Essex, and many of the members of the group on the steps of Van Vleck Gardens, for the Party 4 the Park fundraiser.
Photo Courtesy Traci Giles

Skate Essex, a nonprofit organization established to help local communities create safe skateboarding spaces and programs for children, held its first event last week — the Party 4 the Park, in Van Vleck Gardens. 

Money raised at the Thursday, Oct. 7 event will be used toward the first phase of the Montclair Skate Park at Rand Park — the Alexis Sablone Skate-able Sculptures, referred to as “SsS” for short.

After a unanimous vote by Montclair’s mayor and township council in July on a resolution to build a permanent skate park in Montclair, Skate Essex is “riding fast and hard” to make that a reality, the group said in a description of the event. For almost two years, the skateboarders have been using two of the four courts at Rand Park as a temporary park.

“Skate Essex proudly raised over $25,000 on Thursday through donations from the community and will be putting that and grants towards the Alexis Sablone Skate-able Sculptures (SsS) and other expenses associated with the temporary and permanent park,” one of the event’s organizers, Holly Shaw, said.

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The sold-out event featured a one-on-one interview with Sablone, who in addition to being an Olympic athlete (placing fourth in the women’s street final at the games in Tokyo earlier this year) — is an architect. She discussed being the sole female skater in her hometown, her love of architecture and the undeniable growth of skateboarding as a legitimate sport.

Party-goers enjoyed food donated by Turtle and the Wolf, Pineapple Express, Van Hook Cheese & Grocery and Solex Fine Foods, and drinks donated by Faubourg, Angelbecks and Les Ricey’s Imports. Drinks were served by celebrity bartender George Oliphant — Montclair resident and host of NBC’s “George to the Rescue.”

Many of the current obstacles at the courts are made of wood. These wooden elements rapidly deteriorate due to weather and constant use by the hundreds of skaters using them each week. In partnering with Sablone, Montclair aims to have one-of-a-kind skateboard obstacles made of concrete and steel.

These obstacles will not only last decades and be utilized in a future permanent skatepark, but would also elevate Montclair’s standing as a skateboarding destination, advocates of the park say.

With the money raised on Thursday, prior grants and a few pending, Skate Essex is looking to break ground in the next few months and have the sculptures at the courts ready for skating in the spring of 2022.

— Information provided by Skate Essex

Emcee and Skate Essex member Rick Kloiber is in his element at the Party 4 the Park, raising money and laughter. Photo Courtesy Traci Giles
George Oliphant celebrity bartends at Van Vleck Gardens for the Party 4 the Park fundraiser. Photo Courtesy Traci Giles