Currently viewing the tag: "Thurmont Skatepark"

written by James Rada, Jr.

5: Helping Out

Peter Lawrence seemed to mature before his mother’s eyes, and she wasn’t sure if she was proud that he was growing into a fine man or sad that he was losing his childhood.

Stacy Lawrence had reluctantly given her son permission to work part-time on Bobby Hennessey’s farm. So far, Peter said he was enjoying the work, and Bobby had promised Stacy not to overwork the 12-year-old. Each day, Bobby would pick up Peter and drop him off, and for a few hours in between, Peter would take care of the animals and complete odd jobs around the farm–nothing too physically demanding.

Despite this, Stacy couldn’t shake off the guilt she felt. She would have loved to see her son out skateboarding with friends at the Thurmont Skatepark. Peter had chosen to help out on the farm after seeing how much Stacy was struggling financially. It was both heartwarming and bittersweet to see her son take on such responsibility at such a young age.

When she looked at her son, she saw glimpses of Jack, her ex-husband and Peter’s father. They shared the same unruly brown hair that never seemed to lay straight and bright green eyes that shone with kindness. But what really made them look alike was their smiles—wide open and friendly.

Thankfully, Peter had inherited his mother’s strong work ethic. He didn’t shy away from hard work and always gave it his all. With such dedication, it was no surprise that he proudly handed over most of his weekly pay to Stacy. And even though she knew they needed the money, she couldn’t bring herself to spend it. Taking Bobby’s advice, she opened a savings account in Peter’s name at PNC Bank. One day, he would have a nice nest egg thanks to his own efforts – and knowing Peter, she had no doubt he would use it wisely.

In the quiet moments while she tended the bar, Stacy’s thoughts often drifted to her son. She couldn’t help but miss his presence, even if he spent most of their time together, hunched over his tablet while she worked. Thankfully, Bobby was more than willing to match Peter’s days off with hers, so they could still enjoy some quality time together.

One day, after finishing work early, Stacy swung by Bobby’s farm to pick up Peter and save Bobby a trip. As she pulled up, she saw Peter feeding the animals and Bobby sitting under a tree with his easel and paints.

Curiosity getting the better of her, Stacy approached him and peered over his shoulder at his current creation.

“Not bad,” she said.

Bobby smiled warmly. “You’re kind. I enjoy doing it, though. I find it relaxing.”

“What do you do with them once you finish?”

“Half the time I just paint over them again.”

“And the other half?”

“When you go into the barn, you’ll see them hanging for the horses to enjoy.”

Stacy chuckled at the thought of a horse staring at Bobby’s paintings.

Putting his brush in a jar of water, Bobby stood up. “Would you like a glass of iced tea?”

She nodded, and they walked over to the house and the back deck. Bobby motioned to a cozy patio chair with a worn but comfortable cushion, inviting Stacy to have a seat.

“Have a seat, and I’ll bring out the tea.”

Stacy settled into the chair and took in the view of the farm. It wasn’t sprawling, but it had its own charm, with two rustic barns and a large fenced arena. She couldn’t help but feel relaxed as she sat and gazed out at the peaceful property. In the distance, she spotted Peter pushing an empty wheelbarrow into one of the barns before disappearing inside.

When Bobby returned with a tray carrying a pitcher of tea and two glasses, he joined her at the table. He set it down on the table between them and poured each of them a glass before taking a seat next to her.

“You really have a lovely farm,” Stacy remarked.

“Thank you, but it’s too much for me, really.”

“Then why not sell it?”

“I grew up here. I’ve got a lot of wonderful memories of my parents here. If I sold it, I would feel like I’m losing a part of myself. That’s probably why I have no interest in leaving Thurmont. Everywhere I turn, there are buildings, parks, houses that hold special meaning for me because of the memories attached to them.”

“I’ve never lived in a place like that.”

“Too bad.”

“Maybe, but can you miss something you never had?”

“Maybe not, but you can yearn for something you’ve only dreamed of having. In some ways, that can be even harder because it’s an ideal rather than a reality.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Peter jogging out of one of the barns.

“Bobby, I think you should take a look at Hershey,” the boy said.

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s been acting strange. I’m worried he might be sick or something.”

Bobby and Stacy quickly got up and followed Peter into the barn. “You named a stallion Hershey?” Stacy couldn’t help but ask.

“He reminded me of milk chocolate,” Bobby explained with a fond smile as they approached the stall where Hershey was housed.

Bobby’s four horses were housed in a spacious, rustic barn, with each stall adorned with fresh hay and a clean watering trough. Peter stood at the stall of a large, chocolate-colored stallion, its muscles rippling under its glossy coat. The horse kept shaking his head and biting at his flanks, clearly agitated and uncomfortable. Despite Peter’s attempts to soothe him with calming words and food, the stallion showed no interest.

Stacy entered the stall with cautious steps, her experienced hands lightly running along the stallion’s side. He nipped at her hand, but she quickly pulled it away. She noticed Peter hadn’t yet changed the bedding in the stall, which appeared crushed and dirty.

“I think he may have a mild case of colic,” she said to Bobby.

“What should we do?” he asked, concern etched on his face.

“Let me take him out to the arena and walk him for a while,” Stacy suggested. “Movement can sometimes help with mild cases. In the meantime, Peter should clean out the stall and remove any remaining food. A sick horse shouldn’t be eating.”

With a halter in hand, Stacy led Hershey out of the barn. The horse was hesitant at first, but with gentle words and slight tugs on the halter, he reluctantly followed her lead. As they walked around the arena, Stacy explained to Bobby how walking can help relieve gas and stimulate bowel movements in horses experiencing colic.

“Do you have any experience with this?” Bobby asked.

“I’ve dealt with it before,” Stacy replied. “But I’m not a trained vet, so if this doesn’t work, you’ll need to call one out here.”

“You seem pretty knowledgeable.”

“I’ve been around horses my whole life,” Stacy shrugged modestly. “But I wouldn’t want to risk your horse’s health.”

“I trust you,” Bobby said sincerely.

As they continued their slow laps around the arena, they talked about their pasts. Stacy was surprised to learn that Bobby had been married, but tragically, his wife and daughter had passed away in a car accident several years ago.

“Doesn’t it taint your memories of the town?” she asked sympathetically.

Bobby shook his head. “No. The town helps me remember them. They’re buried in a small family cemetery back behind the barns. Sometimes it makes me sad to visit their graves because of the memories associated with their gravestones, but you have to take the good with the bad.”

Bobby came to a sudden stop, waving his hand in front of his face as if trying to ward off an invisible attacker. “Now that’s a something I can do without.” Hershey had let out a belch of gas, the putrid odor hanging heavily in the air. “Smells like a dead skunk that’s been left out in the sun for a week.”

Stacy couldn’t help but laugh at Bobby’s pained expression. “Like you said, you have to take the good with the bad.”

She paused and ran her hands over Hershey’s belly, relieved when he didn’t snap at her. “I think he’ll be fine. Let’s walk him a little longer and see if he gets rid of anything else.”

“If he does, I might just lose my lunch.” Bobby grimaced as they continued their stroll.

They walked for another 10 minutes before Stacy led Hershey back to his empty stall. “Leave it empty for tonight, no bedding or food. Just to be safe and make sure everything is okay. If his manure is soft or watery in the morning, then we’ll take him to get checked out. But he should be fine.”

“Thank you,” Bobby said gratefully. “I really appreciate you helping Hershey and potentially saving me a vet bill… or even losing my horse.”

“I’m just glad I was here to help,” Stacy replied sincerely.

“I want to pay you.”

Bobby reached for his wallet, but Stacy quickly placed a hand on his arm. “Don’t you dare. You’ve already been so kind to me and Peter. This is the least I can do.”

“Well…” He thought for a moment before an idea struck him. “At least let me order us some pizza, and we can have dinner on the back porch?”

Stacy smiled, nodding in agreement. “That sounds lovely.”

The one-year anniversary celebration of the Thurmont Skatepark was a great success with beautiful weather and lots of skateboarding. The celebration was held on Saturday, October 15. Embark Skateshop hosted the Best Trick Contest, Thurmont Kountry Kitchen provided delicious food, and Thurmont Regional Library raffled a skateboard. Adults and kids enjoyed free Kona Ice, sponsored by Judi Mach LMT Life Coach and Frederick Roof Repair.

Melissa Kinna took the photo (shown right, featuring Carson Fry) and won best photo in the photo contest. Carson won a Thurmont Skatepark shirt (and bragging rights).

Professional skater Derek Krasauskas was the special guest speaker. Derek has been skating professionally for 40 years and loves skateboarding now as much as he did when he was 10.

Everyone enjoyed the ramps and runs of the Thurmont Skatepark and celebrated all of the new additions that have happened in the past year, including the benches, the pavilion, the paved walkway, and the lights. With the addition of the lights, the skatepark is now able to stay open until 10:00 p.m., the same as all other Thurmont parks.

Deb Abraham Spalding

It was a beautiful day for the grand opening celebration of the new Thurmont Skatepark at the East End Park on East Main Street in Thurmont on Saturday, November 6, 2021. The day started off with the group of project-founding skaters gathering at the skatepark for a sunrise skate session. Their project had become a reality!

They skated for about an hour and a half, then other volunteers joined them to plant 30 trees around the skatepark. Soon, event attendees started filling up the space.

From sunup to sundown, the celebration continued as a solid slate of skaters on skateboards, on scooters, or wearing in-line skates, rolled around the smooth concrete contours of the facility. Paul Zelenka served as the event’s DJ mixing up 5 hours of fun tunes.

This project was initiated by local young residents who were looking for a safe place to skateboard. Sgt. Dave Armstrong, of the Thurmont Police Department, started having conversations with the kids instead of just telling them to stop skating when he saw them around town. He realized they needed a safe place to skate. He went with them to a Parks and Rec Committee meeting and gained roots-level support for a skatepark.

A group of 15 Catoctin High School sophomores attended an April 12, 2021 Town of Thurmont meeting with Patrick Dugan as their leader and presented their case, convincing the town to build a skatepark. Four main skaters spearheaded the project including Dugan, Maceo Zelenka, Alan Chimel, and Norman Montoya, by petitioning for support.

The teens didn’t attend that meeting unprepared. They had done research. They visited other towns with skateparks, and met with other organizers and planners who have designed and built skateparks. A visit with Brent at Embark Skate Shop for advice on building a skatepark led the teens to Joe Wallace who had done fundraising for Urbana Skate Park. He shared the name Matt Arment who built the Urbana Park. Within one day of contacting Arment, he had a skatepark design and a proposal drawn up. That project plan was presented to the town. Everything moved along well.

The mayor and commissioners gave the teens lots of positive feedback, as well as advice on how to help their project move along as quickly as possible. The Thurmont Board applied for, and received, a grant from Program Open Space, a program from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that provides counties with funds for public space projects.

Embark donated a skateboard for a raffle to raise funds. The teens had formed a committee and they were present at Thurmont’s Farmers Markets selling raffle tickets and t-shirts. This was a great way for the committee to tell people about the park.

The committee met every week. Josh Boyle, an active inline skater, joined the committee and contributed a wonderful point of view. Sgt. Armstrong stayed active with the committee and remained a great advocate.

Maceo Zelenka’s mother Stacie Zelenka and Patrick Dugan’s mother Kirsten Dugan became parent volunteers who helped lead the boys through the logistics of fundraising.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper, served as the liaison between the board and the committee. Matt Arment of Arment Concrete out of Dover, PA, was really close to the kids. He designed and built the park. Sponsorship was incredible! The teens wrote a letter and asked the community and businesses for support.

Stacie Zelenka said, “We said the first five $500 donations would have a banner at the park. Within 24 hours we had all five of them. Ninety percent of the people really supported the project because it was driven by teens. They can make a change!”

At the grand opening celebration, Embark Skate Shop hosted the best trick contest. People got to see pro skaters. Delegate Jesse Pippy did a kick flip to start off the best trick contest. That was cool to see, especially since he actually landed the stunt.

A proclamation was presented by Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird on behalf of the Governor of the State of Maryland to the Thurmont Skatepark Committee.

There are many individuals who deserve credit and acknowledgement for this true example of a “community” project. Harold Lawson, Thurmont’s Superintendent of Public Works and his crew are responsible for everything that makes up the skatepark’s finished look. Lori Kaas with the Town of Thurmont was the committee’s point of contact with the town office. She kept the committee organized and on track.

Jim Humerick, The Town of Thurmont’s CAO included the skateboard committee in the process every step of the way so they learned how government works. Jacob Williams designed the logo which has been a big hit on the hoodies and t-shirts. Mayor John Kinnaird was always supportive of the skatepark and Thurmont youth.

The skatepark isn’t completely finished. Eventually, there will be lights installed. Next spring, paved walking trails will be installed from the inclusive playground and from the Main Street sidewalk.

Stacie Zelenka said, “A lot of individuals donated to the project and realized that by giving kids and teens in the community a safe outdoor space for a sport just makes the community better.”

Kirsten Dugan sums it all up, “In less than seven months, this project went from a proposal by a group of teenagers into a reality.  This skatepark is a great asset to our town.  People have been out here enjoying the skatepark almost constantly since the concrete dried. To see it completed and to celebrate with the community that has given so much support is really incredible. The whole process has felt like a miracle.”

The official ribbon-cutting was held at the at the grand opening.

Ben Swauger of Waynesboro attended the Thurmont Skatepark Grand Opening on November 13, 2021.

Catoctin ninth-grader Cameron Santmier catches some air on his scooter.

Jayden Myers

In Thurmont, the idea of a skatepark has been brewing for a while. Recently, the dream for many has become a reality, as the project has been accepted. The community can help support the skatepark by making donations, big or small, to the Town of Thurmont. The donations can be dropped off at the town office or mailed to P.O. Box 17, Thurmont, MD 21788, and should be labeled as “Thurmont Skatepark Construction.” They can also be sent online to the Skatepark’s GoFundMe page.

Not only will this be beneficial for the attractions, but also for all the teens and kids of the community. This skatepark will provide an outlet for young people like myself. This outlet will allow them to express themselves, hang out, socialize, and more. It also allows them to be more involved with the community by making them a part of the project!

This skatepark also adds another activity that provides exercise for the youth and adults. According to Skateboard For Kids, pain tolerance, reflexes, patience, precision, coordination, and stress relief are some of the health benefits that come from skateboarding. So, not only will this benefit their physical health but their mental health as well.

This will also provide a safe environment for those who have built makeshift skateparks at their home and other skaters as well. Although they can still get hurt, the skatepark would provide them with a safer environment compared to the streets, roads, and makeshift parks people use. It would lower the risk of skaters getting hit by cars, running into pedestrians, and any property damage. It not only provides safety for the skaters, but pedestrians will be safer as well.

With this being said, the skatepark cannot be accomplished without the support of the community. If you can donate or help contribute to this project in any way, please consider doing so. The Thurmont Skate Park Committee has bi/weekly meetings on Thursdays in the pavilion behind the Senior Center in Thurmont. For more information, join the Thurmont Skatepark’s Facebook page.

New skatepark logo—congratulations, Jacob Williams, on creating the winning logo.