Cleveland Rocks, And Memphis Has The Blues, But Hernando SKATES!
Last month on Saturday, October 10– after four years of hard work by Edward Pidgeon and Chad Crawford with Hernando Skates, folks in Hernando, Mississippi got to skate in a brand new skatepark- ‘Pidgeon Park‘.
The two were able to raise $40,000 in about four years, which allowed Hernando Parks and Recreation to apply for a state grant for $100,000.00 to make building the park possible. The skatepark was built by Portland, Oregon based Evergreen Skateparks.
There isn’t a permanent sign up to tell you where to turn yet- you have to keep an eye out for the dirt road once you pass Conger Park, and the skatepark is off the road a bit.
Not only were there a lot of folks out skating the park, but there were some serious mad skating skills going on. Lots of air!
I had no idea that skateboarding was as popular as it is around here. We’ve had “The Darwin Gang” who are some kids/teens who live down the street from us skate up and down our block, but those were the only only skateboarders I’ve seen around town. I’ve only really seen skaters in mid-town Memphis in this area.
There was a new park built down the street from my apartments when I was a kid in Bartlett, TN (suburb of Memphis), but closed soon after it opened due to drainage problems. Instead of a skatepark it became a swimming pool for mosquitoes. I never got to check it out.
This park is set up to where newer skaters and more experienced skaters can both enjoy it. (That’s my lil’ buddy Zee from Area 51 Ice Cream on the right.)
We saw kids, teens, adults, guys, girls, black, white, newbies, long time skaters- diversity of all kinds all skating together and having a great time. A lot of spectators like me were on hand as well.
A couple weekends ago I got to see what it’s like to actually skate it. I (49yrs) met my friends Kevin Thorn (51yrs), Greg Cravens (50yrs) and son Gideon, and Mike Womack and his son Noah, at Coleman’s Bar-B-Que in town for breakfast early on Saturday morning.
We gobbled our food down quickly and headed down Commerce Street to 51 and down to the park which was about 5 minutes or so away.
The park is off Highway 51 about a mile south of the DeSoto County courthouse in the center of Hernando, MS (about 15min south of Memphis) and just around the corner from the old watertower, Conger Park, and neighborhood where Nicki and I live. The irony of my living between a skatepark and a cemetery was not lost on me, nor was the Hospital Wing helicopter flying overhead.
It was a bit chilly that morning, but a gorgeous day and we had the whole park to ourselves for a few hours.
Apparently the skater community around here sleeps in late on Saturdays. That was great for us!
The guys were all impressed with the park! Greg and Gideon skate a lot up in Memphis and have been itching to check out this new park. They all started to devise a plan of attack.
His Hubris stickers have been showing up all over the world these days. Keep your eye out for them.
Me, well- it’s been about 35 years since I’ve been on a skateboard, other than doing some straight aways with my nieces and nephew about 10 years ago. The skateboard on the right is my original board from back in the ’70s. The one on the left is the loaner board Greg let me use for the day. To say boards have changed over the years is an understatement.
My first time out was a wipe out! No major injuries- I was wearing wrist guards and hockey pads and luckily my spill looked a lot worse than it felt. Even so I still felt it through the elbow pad on my left arm, but better that than my drawing arm being shattered. I didn’t use any pads or wear a helmet as a kid- it just wasn’t as available or advanced then.
I don’t know why anyone these days would skate on concrete without some sort of protective gear- at least a helmet!
I always wear wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and a helmet when ice skating or roller skating, too. I’ve got medical insurance, but can’t afford to be out of work due to broken bones or a concussion. I grew up with road rashes, but never tried to do any stunts on my board…well, no intentional ones. Usually I just rode it down hills in parking lots at our apartments, or down the street at my grandparents’ house. The only time I tried to jump a curb I ended up flipping over on my back and had the wind knocked out of me. Didn’t try that move again.
After my wipe-out this time I got back on the board and pretty much just stayed in the “shallow end” or “kiddie pool” part of the park for the rest of the morning. I was bad about wanting to stand up straight on my board instead of bending my knees and lowering my center of gravity. Like Greg says, “Gravity is a downer!” Lesson learned.
We offered Kevin some extra elbow pads but he declined…until he wiped out in about the same spot I did! He put on the pads and continued skating, occasionally playing “follow the leader” with Greg. Mike decided to watch from the top of the park. Again, I stayed in the shallow end. My wife is constantly having to tell me I don’t bounce or heal like I used to.
It was a bit intimidating to me at first than I thought it would be. I mean, c’mon- I saw kids skating it a few weeks earlier. How hard could it be, right? Straight skating was fun, but anytime I got near a bowl or started up a side it freaked me out. The sides and bowls of the park seemed a lot deeper and steeper once inside it.
Gideon, Greg, Kevin, and Noah were exploring as much of the surface area they could and doing great. The park looked smaller from the pics I had seen, but once you’re inside it there’s lots of room to maneuver and do tricks.
Look at the Old Farts Club go! Not bad for a couple of old geezers. Mike finally tried it and wiped out in the same place Kevin and I did.
Finally around 10am or so we had some company show up. They seemed like they knew what they were doing so we let them have the park to themselves.
When I got home from the skatepark I assessed the damage to my knee. I ended up just walking away with a flesh wound- much like the road rash I encountered when I was a kid. Greg and Gideon made the trek back down the next morning. I slept in and nursed my scraped knee and aching bones. My wife made fun of me walking around like an arthritic orangutan…again. Getting old sucks, but i do look forward to giving the skatepark another shot.
Address: 3323-, 3369 Hwy 51 S, Hernando, MS 38632
Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Mon-Sun
Holiday hours might differ
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Photos by Lin Workman, Nicki Workman, Kevin Thorn, and Mike Womack.