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Go Skate Day keeps Fort Worth skate scene history alive

Northside resident Gerald De La Paz, 62, grew up down the street from Marine Park. He was there when Marine Skate Park opened in 2013.

“We almost always have a bunch of kids here almost every night,” De La Paz said. “These guys will be here until 11 and 12 o’clock. I like it.”

Neighborhood skateboarders came together on June 21, or Go Skate Day, at Marine Skate Park, 303 N.W. 20th St. Among the nearly 100 skaters were Anthony Vargas from Oak Cliff and his son Aaron Vargas, 14, a sponsored skateboarder.

Anthony Vargas travels with his son, who began skateboarding seriously about two years ago. Aaron Vargas skates mostly street — or in places not dedicated for skating — but the father-son duo make trips to competitions out of state.

“We just came back from Oklahoma City — they had a contest down there. We’ve gone to Midland and Houston to skate and you know, just trying to do the circuit,” Anthony Vargas said. 

Anthony Vargas coached youth baseball for his three older sons, but now it is time to coach his youngest, Aaron, in skateboarding. 

Skaters react to a trick by a fellow skater on June 21 at Marine Skate Park. Skaters gathered for Go Skate Day. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

“This is what he loves to do. This is what he fell in love with. He’s tried soccer and other stuff, but this is his thing,” Anthony Vargas said.

Aaron Vargas receives boards, wheels and other merchandise from Function Skate Supply, which sponsors him. The Vargas family only pays for grip tape, bearings and trucks, or the equivalent of axles.

One thing Anthony Vargas loves about the community is how undramatic it is. The crews don’t fight, for the most part, and it’s a very accepting community, he said.

The Go Skate Day gathering at Marine Skate Park was hosted by Magnolia Skate Shop, 1455 W. Magnolia Ave. 

Magnolia Skate Shop Owners Coyt Caffey and Bobby Wilson gave away money for landed tricks. One kid walked away with a wad of cash. The owners also gave away free boards, wheels and other skateboard accessories.

John Shea watches skaters on June 21. Shea grew up in Watauga and has skated for decades. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

John Shea, a lifelong skateboarder and worker at Magnolia Skate Shop, watched and cheered as a skateboarder tried gapping — or jumping over — a fence.

Shea’s seen the skate scene change and evolve throughout the years in Fort Worth.

“I’ve been in the game for so long. And now I’m not trying to jump down crazy or anything anymore,” Shea said. “Now, I do it if my legs are willing. I go skate like twice a week and just goof off.”

He wanted to return to a spot he skated at for years — Marine Skate Park. 

In a way, Shea lives vicariously through the younger skaters in the city, he said.

“Skating hit me really hard when I was 14 or 15. I was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do,’” Shea said. “Thirty years later and I’m still doing it.”

His favorite skate spot is Burnett Plaza in downtown Fort Worth — a location known nationally in the skateboarding community.

“It’s been in videos since the ’90s. It’s been in countless skate videos. I started skating there in 1992,” Shea said. “You used to be able to get away with it on Sundays, ike, there’d be 50 kids. In the late ’90s, they started giving tickets and people started taking boards from us. It was really bad.”

Now, Shea said security is quick to kick skaters out, but with no contention from the skaters.

Skateboarding has a long history in Fort Worth. In 1960, world known-NASH Skateboards began producing the “Goofy Foot Sidewalk Surfer” from their manufacturing plant in Fort Worth. The design was one of the first mass produced boards in the nation.

NASH skateboards could be found at toy stores and were marketed for kids. However, the original design with plastic wheels and metal bearings posed a risk to children. NASH Skateboards founder Frank Nasworthy found a solution with his NASH Heat Zone skateboard — with all plastic trucks and axles.

The designs straight out of Fort Worth helped launch the sport of skateboarding to national competitive levels. A fire in 2006 destroyed the NASH manufacturing plant, 315 W. Ripy St.

Shea owned a later NASH skateboard model, the NASH Executioner, he said. Everyone had one.

“It had a dragon on the bottom. It’s such a weird thing when I see that image. I mean, I could draw it for you right now. I remember seeing it so much when I was a kid,” Shea said.

Skaters line up against a fence at Marine Skate Park. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Skateboarding is alive and well in Fort Worth, however. Magnolia Skate Shop owners and workers partnered with Fort Worth Parks and Recreation and Dickies to bring a skatepark — Dickies Plaza — to Southside Fort Worth.

Construction on the skate park is still set to be completed by October 2022.

Also in October, Magnolia Skate Shop will host its Open Streets event where they close down a portion of Magnolia Avenue, bring out ramps and hold skate contests.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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