COLORADO SPRINGS — Memorial Park has been the center of stories about theft, gun violence, and drug use, but there exists a life between these headlines. The skaters who frequent the park often spin their wheels despite its infamy.
"A lot of people get arrested. Three people died here in 2021. I get really nervous and I'm like 'Is that gonna happen to me?'" said eight-year-old Quin Hawkins Jr.
Many skaters said these stories are more than mere gossip, but events that have a major impact on their lives.
"I've known a few of the kids who have been shot; one that's dead. Yeah, it breaks my heart," said Rob Miller, a skater and an owner of BC Surf and Sport, who helped raise money for Memorial Park before it was built.
Miller raised the point that although he has been personally impacted by some of the worst stories to come out of the area, he sees "100 to 200 kids a day that have a great time."
Some said they benefit from the physicality involved in biking, scootering, rollerblading. and skateboarding. Others said they felt they received benefits to their mental health.
Everyone, however, said they felt the greatest benefit of skating was the life lessons that come with the trial-and-error process of learning to ride and perform tricks.
"Learning to not give up is super big; learning how to shrug off pain, and get over fear," said Alex Talley, who visited the park from Denver because of the notoriety of Team Pain, the design team behind Memorial Park.
Despite what may be known about the history of the skate park, those who use it for its intended purpose most often said more people should consider paying a visit.
"It's just a beautiful place; [there's] a lot of beautiful, awesome people here," said Caiden Strasser, a local bike rider.
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