Last Wednesday, the Skatepark of Tampa crew loaded up and embarked on a two-day haul from the 813 to New York City for Damn Am NYC. With a squad of eleven people packed in the van, we rolled out bright and early and were on our way from the Dirty South to the Big City.
Our first stop was North Glynn Skate Park in Brunswick, GA, where the crew could finally stretch their legs and shred after hours of driving. We hit some rain on the way up and the park was a little soggy with a few puddles, but that didn’t stop the team from having a good time. After a couple hours of course destruction, we hopped back in the van and prepared for an extensive trek to Virginia where we stayed for our first night of our epic journey.
From our hotel in Virginia, we headed up to Lake Fairfax Skate Park. The park was tucked away by trees and winding roads, but with the help of Cameron Hunt, who had been to Lake Fairfax in the past, we found it with no problem. By this time, the rainy weather we were driving through the day prior was a little less forgiving. It wasn’t like the torrential downpours we’re used to in Florida, but the windy mist that seemed to hit in twenty-minute intervals was enough to soak the ground. However, the Skatepark of Tampa crew is innovative and resilient; we dug through the van to find what we could to spread out the puddles and dry the ground, and within minutes, the crew went to work with hotel towels and broken decks in effort to make this hidden gem skateable.
Not too long after the crew stacked some clips, the windy rain won it’s round, and once again, we piled into the van. This time, however, our destination was the Big Apple. We battled the Jersey Turnpike and it’s ridiculous tolls, tried to reason with our Google Maps directions, and survived the copious amount questionable drivers and mass traffic we encountered on the way. Finally, hours later, we arrived to Hoboken, NJ, where we stayed before taking on Damn Am practice and registration the next day. While on a search for some cold, celebratory brews, we found that the convenience stores near our hotel didn’t carry what we were looking for, which initiated a two-hour search for some cold ones. With half of the crew at the hotel, Eric McKenney, Jean-Luc Vida, Yonis Molina, Cameron Hunt, Jack Loktu, and myself went on a party mission. We ended up at a small bar called Northern Soul that was about a mile from where we stayed. The boys threw some darts and shot some pool, had a few drinks and ultimately a good time. After some harassment from the locals and almost getting our Uber ride snaked, we finally made it back to our hotel and kept the party going strong.
We were elated to finally be in New York City the next day. When we got to LES Park in Manhattan, we flooded out of the van, grabbed our boards, and immediately ran towards the park. We met up with our fearless leader, Brian Schaefer, Paul Zitzer, and young-buck team rider Alejandro Burnell. There were a lot of familiar faces that made it out to this contest, a lot of which were fellow Floridians, which was really great to see. Registration and practice was a go, and Tampa was ready to take over the weekend. Later that night, we arrived at our hotel in Brooklyn, which was a convenient train ride across the bridge and into the city. The next day was qualifiers, where team riders Alejandro Burnell, James Cobb, and Markus Jalaber held it down for Tampa and destroyed their way into Sunday’s finals. That night, the team lurked a couple bars in Brooklyn and kept it mellow in preparation for the next day’s events. We’re very proud of our friends for killing it all weekend, especially during the best trick over the double set into the park, where James Cobb hucked it per usual.
On our last night in the city, we met up with fellow Tampanian Dustin Eggling and kicked it on his rooftop in Brooklyn, where we had the most amazing view of the lit up skyline of the city. Thanks for having us, Dustin! It’s always great to reconnect with friends.
Monday morning, we packed our things and got ready to head back to the place we call home. It was going to be another long-haul, but we had faith that we’d be back safely with our pilot Eric McKenney, who killed it all weekend making sure that the crew was taken care of. On our way home that day, we stopped off in Philly and skated the new Paine’s Park. Once again, we battled wet weather, and after a session at Paine’s, we headed to the infamous FDR skatepark. Probably one of the gnarliest parks I’ve ever been to, we soon transitioned from a comfortable plaza set up, to being surrounded by tall transition and pool coping. Since we had a long drive ahead of us, we didn’t stay at FDR long, but I’m glad we made the stop.
That night, we crashed somewhere in Maryland, and while we were driving through, found a skate-haven. It was incredible how this single spot bore gifts of a quarterpipe, stairs, and ledges. We got the boot before we could finish warming up, but we were grateful for those few, precious minutes of skateboarding at a cool, new spot, even if the session was short-lived. After making it to our hotel, we were once again in search of a near-by watering hole. A few of us headed to a little bar up the road to shoot some pool, while SPoT filmer Jean Luc Vida, PJ Castellano, and James Cobb went on a mission to skate in DC. Luckily, they got their clips with no trouble and made it back early the next day in time to head home.
Finally, Tuesday rolls around, and it’s the last van ride before we reach our final destination at the Skatepark of Tampa. We depart from Maryland, and with several gas station stops and fourteen or some hours later, we’re back at the home front.
We were so lucky to have had such a great crew on this trip. With everyone being so dedicated to skateboarding and always being down to have a great time, this trip was grade A. A huge thank you goes out to our trip captain Eric McKenney for his outstanding leadership and patience he had during the trip. Also, a special thank you to the weekend’s competitors and spectators for supporting skateboarding, and to our sponsors: Independent, Nike SB, and Zumiez for making this weekend possible. Until next year, that’s a wrap.
Words and photos by Alex Bibiloni
Video by Jean-Luc Vida
The team anticipates our arrival to DamnAM NYC. Are we there yet?
James Cobb, jammin' and dreamin'.
Eric looks for a line at the double set we found in Virginia. What have you got down this beast?
The #OFFTHATWET squad left their mark in Jersey.
Day 1: Waiting for the train to take us into the city.
Of course, Dylan Perry came up on some Starbucks before taking on the city.
Manhattan Bridge photo op...this is only about a third of the people that rode in the van from Tampa.
Guess when you're in the Big Apple you've gotta pay to play.
A view of the city from the Manhattan Bridge, where LES was conveniently located underneath.
Alejandro Burnell, back smith.
Cameron Hunt, nose grind.
Unfortunately, our boy Sam got broke-off at our first stop in Georgia, so he wasn't able to skate. However, Sam has the best attitude and can make it through any situation with a smile. Sick cane, Sam!
Yonis has snaps for days.
Eric McKenney snaps over the city.
Alex Bibiloni patiently awaits a car to skitch in NYC.
Alex B. and Cameron came up with the NYPD cruiser being towed.
The squad gets a prime rooftop view of the city.
Cameron Hunt powerslides through Chinatown.
An older gentleman tends to his newspaper stand.
Fish market in Chinatown.
Chinatown is a beautiful place, both during the day and at night.
PJ Castellano and Jamal Campbell are ready to rage.
Waiting for the train to Brooklyn after a long day of skateboarding.
The squad takes a quick breather on the way to Dustin Eggling's pad in Brooklyn.
Rooftop hang with long-time homie Dustin Eggling. Thanks for the hospitality, Dustin! We'll see you sooner than later.
We made it over to FDR skatepark in Philadelphia on our way back home. Definitely a park you should check out at least once in your lifetime.
Eric McKenney, ripping the mini at FDR.
Everyone was craving a genuine Philadelphia Philly Cheesesteak, so we headed down to Pat's Steaks to get our fix.
Leaving our mark nationwide.
We randomly came across a super rad spot while passing through Maryland. Robby Kirkland already knew what he was gonna shred.
We found a really dope taco spot down the street from our hotel. BYOB and great food! The team winds down before a long drive home.
James Cobb poses for a quick photo during his, Jean-Luc's, and PJ's night mission in Washington DC.
PJ Castellano at the Washington Monument in DC.
A rare sighting of James Cobb standing in line for fast food...at a Wal Mart.
Time lapse of the 18 hour drive.
Jean-Luc had some fun taking van selfies in between working on edits.
Be on the lookout for a SPoT x Westside collab. Dylan and Yonis get comfy in the van.