Tony Hawk's Gigantic Skatepark Tour

Posted on Monday, July 2, 2001 by Ryan

July 2, 2001
Story, Photos and Captions by Ryan Clements
Tony Hawk's Gigantic Skatepark Tour
   Why is it that I can remember pretty much everything all of the time and then when it's the most critical time, I forget something? On the way to meet Rob, Soomi, Abdias, Matt, Jorge, and Barry, I forgot to bring my tape recorder. This was important, so Rappy and I did a 180 on the way to the Skatepark and headed home. After all, I was supposed to take my newfound journalistic talents all the way to Merritt Island and get an exclusive interview with the Birdman himself on the Tony Hawk Gigantic Skatepark Tour. The foreshadowing has begun.
   I called Barry to inform him of my tardiness and asked him to grab a few items so we could get going. When I arrived at the Skatepark eight minutes late, I got out of my truck to Rob saying something to the effect of, "Let me make note of Ryan Clements being late." No problem, I can admit fault. Barry had everything that I asked for (sort of) all prepared and ready to go, so we hit the road. About 10 miles down I-4, Rob called me, "Do you have the digi?" I replied, "No, Barry was supposed to grab that." "Well, Barry said that you had him get all of that stuff for you, so he forgot the digi." The situation was handled by me stating, "Okay, it's my fault, but not to worry, Rappy has his digi." Problem solved, because I knew there was no way to do a story without photos.
   As our two carloads pulled up to the Paradise Funplex, I realized that claiming, "Scooter said I could do this," gave us full access from the security staff to park where we so desired. I can't explain how nice it was to be the one attending the event rather than working countless hours to organize and run one. Scooter runs theskateboardshop at the park and he took care of our crew for the entire day by supplying us with the all-access wristbands. The pre-demo session was in full effect when we joined in, with a crowd of about 1000 onlookers.
   The park was pretty much the same set-up as last time I was there, with the exception of a face-lift. All ramps had been repainted a dull gray and Tony Hawk sticker placement was prevalent. There were some local kids tearing up the street course and mini-ramp, so Barry, Rob, and I joined right in. Once again, Scooter and the ESPN announcer took great care of the Skatepark of Tampa. I'll have to speak for myself on this one, but skating in front of a huge crowd was rather exciting. I'm sure it was more exciting for me than the crowd, though. There was this one kid skating with no legs and another kid that had severely deformed legs. Hats off to these brave soldiers for overcoming. It reminded me of that guy, Og, from Brazil. I remember reading in Big Brother something like, "After seeing this guy, you can never get mad again." So true. Over on the street course, Matt and Abdias were doing a handrail demo while Jorge was hitting the flat bar. Everyone agreed that the heat was unbearable, so when we were asked to stop skating for the arrival of the tour bus, no one put up too much of a fight.
   The ESPN announcer talked to the crowd a bit too long, but that didn't stop them from going into frenzy mode when the bus unloaded. The list of superstar pros was long, and here's what I can remember: Eric Koston, Bucky Lasek, Jason Ellis, Steve Caballero, Colin McKay, Kris Markovich, some am kid, and of course Birdman; not to mention bikers Rob Nollie, Mike Escomido, and new Skatepark of Tampa team member Rick Thorne. Be sure to check out the exclusive Thorne interview.

Rick Thorne is tough!

It's better to not fall asleep in the car when your friends are bored.  Jorge suffers the repercussions with permanent marker to the face.
Mullet spotting at Hooters.

No Hooters will be left undiscovered!  Clockwise from front: Rob, Soomi, Rappy, Barry, Ryan, Matt, Abdias, Jorge.
   I swear there was more camera personnel on the street course than skaters and Rappy was up there shooting photos with the best of them. The Tony Hawk Tour is quite a production and I heard that the pros are very well compensated for their efforts. It's so nice to see the professional skaters getting their share. The boys were pretty much getting comfortable with Markovich throwing down a huge 360 backside grab over the jump-box, Hawk was almost making the rodeo flip, and Koston was cruising with some K-grinds and such. One thing that I found funny was that the crowd went totally nuts for Hawk doing a handplant on a vert quarter. I guess skateboarding's newest generation thinks that inverts are gnarly and I think that's just great. The bikers hit a couple of flips and airs-out-to-peg-jump-back-in. Oh yeah, did I mention that Paradise Funplex is 100% outdoors? Oh, welcome to Florida! Serious thunderstorms, brother. The current crowd of approximately 2000 basically had nowhere to go and it was pouring, with a side order of lightning and thunder. I was able to weasel my way into the VIP autograph area with Barry and Jorge to hang out, where I spent the majority of my time conversing with Rick Thorne. Check out the interview to hear the viewpoint of a seriously cool guy. Click here to read the interview.
   Oops, after spending about an hour indoors and not once seeing Tony Hawk (So much for that interview, and I had some damn good questions.), I realized that we lost the rest of the crew, but not before I got to muscle my way on the tour bus and get an exclusive interview with Kris Markovich. Make sure to read what he has to say about his new company, Hollywood. Click here to read the interview. I managed to reach Rob on his cell and they were at the mall across the street. We met them and found out that they got caught in the rain, got soaked to the point where they looked like they had jumped in a swimming pool, and Rappy lost his digi. Great, no photos at all! But the good news is that there was a Hooters across the street. What can I say? Spending the afternoon at Hooters is not that bad of a time. We didn't get to skate the Satellite Beach skatepark, but the Skatepark of Tampa posse will be back. Thanks to everyone that skated with us that day, Scooter at theskateboardshop, and Dennis at Paradise Funplex for showing us a great time and giving back to skateboarding.

We were so mad at Rappy for losing his digi, that we made him wear these slippers from the $1 store as punishment.