Kids lined up to session. Photo: Sam Milianta
Summertime is traditionally when most skateboard contests take place in Utah, but the summer of 2011 has seen very few contests compared to past years. Hopefully, this means that skateboarding is moving in the right direction—it would be great to see a world with few contests and more friendly, organized skate sessions.
Milosport Orem owner Benny Pellegrino noticed that there were a lot of kids in his community who skateboarded, but didn’t really care about the contest circuit. Milosport is the only remaining core shop in the community that has taken an active role in the local skate scene.
Often, however, Milosport’s role is lost in translation during actual events. “I got sick of being the guy on the megaphone and having people say, ‘Wait, who are you?’” says Pellegrino. “Most kids would come to events at the skatepark and not even know that Milosport was putting it on.”
In an effort to decrease the emphasis on competition at skate events and get back to having fun, positive sessions, Pellegrino decided to do something different this year. Instead of throwing contests at the skatepark, Pellegrino and Milosport are throwing a series of Skateboard Drive-ins. With the support of several major skateboard companies like DC, DNA Distribution (Alien Workshop, Habitat, etc.) and others, Milosport is able to have a skate session in the parking lot of their store that is competition free.
The companies sponsoring the events provide product to give to the kids who participate. Instead of giving away product to the winners of a contest, Milosport is able to give it to kids who show up, skate for fun and try new tricks. Some kids get product even if they don’t land a trick. It’s a great way to build a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition in a local skate scene. “Kids don’t get out of the park and skate together enough,” says Pellegrino. “This is a good way to get everyone together.”
Following the actual skateboarding, Pellegrino and employees of Milosport grill up some hotdogs, provide soda and water and have a barbecue in the parking lot. “I’m going to feed everybody who comes,” says Pellegrino.
Afterwards, kids are invited to stay and watch a skateboard video in the parking lot. The videos come courtesy of the skateboard companies who sponsor each event and are projected onto a screen on the side of the shop. This is different from a video premiere, as the purpose of the event is not just to watch the video, but to enjoy a day of skateboarding with friends.
“This is just a trial run to see if it works out,” says Pellegrino. “We might try doing the same thing at the skatepark somewhere down the road, but we’ll just see how it works out.”
The first event consisted of a lot of kids skating a bench and a barrier in the parking lot outside Milosport’s store. A lot of kids were trying very difficult tricks and if they got close, one of the shop employees who was present would tell them that if they landed it they could receive some product. The product often consisted of beanies, jeans or socks from one of the event’s sponsors, although several kids got boards and shoes as well.
If the first event was any indication, Milosport seems to be on the right path. There aren’t a lot of events that allow young skateboarders to get together and just enjoy skateboarding. The fun of skateboarding is often lost in the stress of competitive summer contests. Having a low-stress skate session is not anything new, but it is something that seldom happens with proper organization, or company and shop sponsorship.
The Skateboard Drive-In series is slated to continue throughout the summer with the final event being held in mid-September. If the series continues to enjoy the success of the first event, Milosport plans to make this an annual series every summer. Check out the next Skateboard Drive-In on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Milosport Orem. For more details visit their blog at milo-orem.blogspot.com or look them up on Facebook.