As a kid, I was pretty unfamiliar with the lay of the land outside of my quiet suburban neighborhood in Warwick, but I was a skateboarder, which put me in the vicinity of skaters from other neighborhoods who knew about other skate spots. Other spots meant meeting more skaters. It didn’t take long for my circle of peers to extend beyond the confines of my little neighborhood.
We spent our weekends skating at gas stations, banks, libraries and churches. We ollied down stairs, noseslid curbs and bomb dropped off ledges. We didn’t require much. Just our boards and a little candle wax for the curbs could easily occupy an entire afternoon.
When we were younger, our parents would drop us off at nearby skate spots while they ran errands, but it always was for a short amount of time. When we got our own driver’s licenses, we could make our own skateboarding plans. We branched out to Garden City in Cranston, Ethan Allen in Warwick and the basketball courts in East Greenwich. These places were great for skateboarding, but came with a high likelihood of being kicked out by police or security. “No Skateboarding” signs were posted at most of our favorite spots, but nevertheless, we persisted.
We began seeking sets of three stairs instead of two, and attempting kickflips and shove-its down them rather than just ollies. Our wheels spun faster and the curbs got higher. We were getting better, and my VHS camcorder was always rolling and documenting our progress.
Eventually, we found our way to Providence. Thayer Street, the parking garage and the RISD Monument were the new destinations. We discovered the spot by Trinity when it was just some stairs, a ledge and a long curb that was always super slick. Little did we know that this location would turn into Trinity Skatepark. Now it has a flat bank in addition to the original stairs and ledges, and 20 years later, the long curb is still slick as hell.
I often went to Old Mountain Skatepark in South Kingstown when I attended URI. There have been upgrades since I have last been there, but the basic layout is still the same. The middle pyramid has good rails for railsliding. The half pyramid has a ledge with metal coping. There is an impressive spine and a bank that shares its crest with a mini ramp. The park has a really good flow, and was obviously designed with the mechanics of skateboarding in mind.
Mickey Stevens Skatepark in Warwick has always been a favorite of mine because it has a little bit of everything. The mini ramp is legit, the fun box is the perfect height for practicing practice manual tricks and the bank is at just the right angle for flip tricks. There are two pyramids — one with rails and one with ledges — and a mini ramp that’s perfect for noodling around on. The park is large and spread out, and accommodating to most skateboarding styles.
I recently decided to shake the rust off and skated at the new park in North Kingstown. The layout is simple and effective. Set on an old tennis court, it makes good use of the relatively small space. It has just what you need: rails, a nice mini ramp, a flat bank and a respectable fun box. Small parks like this are my favorite kind to skate when they are not too crowded.
Skateparks are controlled environments, customized to aid and accommodate your progression. You can go at it as hard as you want, or just hang out with little interference from the general public. You might meet a few skaters who will gladly tell you about other parks, where you might meet other skaters who know about other parks and soon your circle will expand beyond the confines you once knew.