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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2007

Blissfield skate park gives break from the daily grind


BLISSFIELD - If you've ever wanted to "Five-Oh" the "hubba," now the village of Blissfield has got the spot on tap.

The new skateboard park officially opened at Ellis Park this month after local skaters successfully raised $70,000.

A "hubba" is a concrete handrail on the side of stairs that skaters can ollie (jumping with your skateboard) onto and then grind (moving your skateboard along the edge or on top of an object).

A 5-0, pronounced "Five-Oh," is when the skateboard grinds with only the back of the board so the nose of the board is up in the air.

Spencer Deneve, 15, last week was landing all his tricks. He was ollieing on the rail and 5-0ing the whole thing like nobody's business.

The Blissfield high school student, complete with a pseudo-mohawk haircut, was one of about 20 local kids hanging out and doing tricks on the late weekday afternoon.

The skaters said the park's lights get turned off at 11 p.m. and that most kids come right before closing time.

Phil Hensley, 17, said the new skateboard park beats having to "skate around town and get hassled."

"Before, we were getting ticketed all the time," he said.

Blissfield Police Chief Jane Kelly said skateboards were scratching bleachers, scuffing curbs, and damaging and knocking over picnic tables in local parks and downtown. He said police would issue warnings, and if the skateboarders didn't heed them, they would get tickets.

Bert Baney was hitting some balls to his son, Bryce, at the baseball diamonds adjacent to the new skateboard park.

"I think it's a good thing for the kids, rather than just hanging out and having nothing to do," Mr. Baney said.

He called it a "mischief detour."

His 16-year-old son said the new park is positive because it gets the skaters off the streets.

"Before they'd skate on the roads and I'd be worried about hitting them while driving," he said.

Bryce, who just finished up his sophomore year at Blissfield and was on the junior varsity baseball team, said skateboarding is catching on more now that the park is up and running.

But Phil said skateboarding should and always will remain an alternative sport.

"After the skate park opened, people wanted us to have teams and for us to complete, like other teams, like baseball," he said. "We said 'no.' That just seemed bunk."

The park has been in the works since 2004. It is on the old Ellis Park tennis courts, off West Adrian Street, just east of the River Raisin. The skaters held raffles, car washes, and rock concerts to raise the funds.

They now are working to raise another $60,000 for additional equipment.

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