About 200 skaters hiked to the top of the bridge for the final Go Skate Day hill bomb. Photo: Jake Vivori
I arrived at a parking lot just below the Legacy Bridge to see its steps thronged with hundreds of people. Really, there were hundreds. They were all either holding or riding skateboards, and they were all waiting for the same thing—to commence the annual Go Skateboarding Day hillbomb from the University to the Utah Art Alliance. At about 7 o’ clock, we all began hiking the steps to cross the bridge at the beck of the event’s coordinator and SK801 officioso Jason Gianchetta, also known as Cheese. The mob formed a circle in a little courtyard facing the bridge. The scene reminded me of the part from the movie The Warriors when all the gangs convene in that park and the leader Cyrus talks about unity and strength in numbers. The bomb was initiated by Cheese leading a savage chant, which I think was more of an outpour of guttural passion than a string of words. With a thunderous slap of skateboards tapping…
We were off, and skateboarders instantly choked the capacity of the bridge and the hundreds of wheels rolling on it sounded like a raging current. The crowd was alternately in a giant mob or single file, crashing through the U-Library Plaza en masse or weaving down the snake run that flows through the University. The boldest of riders hit shed-rail or slashed the acrylic red benches sprinkled throughout. When we reached the end of campus at President’s circle and were spat-out into the city, we clogged traffic and demanded attention. Some kid was halting cars on thirteenth east, acting as a crossing- guard so that bombers could safely coast through the streetlight be it red or green. I saw a yellow x-terra run-over a runaway skateboard—the skateboard was okay. It was like a war-raid with all the busy horns honking in protest and the freshly road-rashed participants lining the gutters, who were looking over their carnage while yelling, “fuck yeah!” or “whoo!” in support of the bombers.
After all the chaos ended, and many of us had reached the flat stretch of the city, it felt like we were the attractions in a parade. Many a pedestrian and homeowner observed the spectacle with wonder, and many drivers flashed smiles at us in passing. The smooth bottom half of second south became a time for reflection and glory-basking for some of the participants, stopping to pick up their boards for rest and telling their side of what just happened—the most colossal movement of skateboarders the city has ever seen.
When most of us reached the Utah Art Alliance and the pilgrimage was complete, there were kicker-ramps and quarter-pipes already set up in the lot. A crowd of about a hundred lookers-on formed a sideline for the group of skateboarders-not-to-be-daunted-by-exhaustion to shred the ramps. The row was littered with kids with strawberry abrasions from the spills they took on the hill, which looked like a cheerful leper colony. The best-trick contest was fraught with bangers. Some kid in a backwards cap hucked a 540-flip, and the winner of the contest, feller by the name of Harley, threw a back-80 late-flip to earn the prize pack of a skateboard and goodies. Local bands The Anal Beads and Red Telephone played for the festive crowd of rompers.
In summation, I want to return to the Warriors analogy. What I saw this summer solstice was a gathering of skateboarders from all different cities and backgrounds, and much like the thugs that gathered to listen to Cyrus’s sermon, all shared a common interest. I saw Guthrie-ites skating side-by-side with Fairmont kids, and Kearnsies riding alongside Roseweirdos. Nope, it doesn’t get much more inclusive than skateboarding, and Go Skateboarding Day was just an enlargement of what happens everyday in this community. And, to answer Cyrus’s question: Yes, I fucking dig it.
Check out more photos from Go Skate Day here.