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Friday, February 26, 2021

Gainesville celebrates 150th anniversary with skateboarding, painting

<p>Sly Sullivan, a 22-year-old local skater, practices for the Possum Creek Skate Park Jam on Saturday.</p>

Sly Sullivan, a 22-year-old local skater, practices for the Possum Creek Skate Park Jam on Saturday.

As part of the 150th anniversary of Gainesville, the city hosted an event with blaring music, wall art and skateboards. 

The Possum Creek Skate Jam took place Saturday at Possum Creek Skatepark, located at 4009 NW 53rd Ave. 

During the free event, which included food trucks, event-goers circled around the park to watch skateboarders compete. 

When city project coordinator Nicole Yucht first started planning the event, she said she thought around 100 people would come. 

“Over the course of the event, we had more than 500 people there,” she said. “It was really successful. We were thrilled.”

Russell Etling, the manager of cultural affairs for the Gainesville Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, said the event was a success and will probably continue for years to come. 

“Our skateboard community has been very active since the 1970s, so it was an opportunity to reach out to this part of our community and get them active,” Etling said.

The event had four competing divisions divided by age groups ranging from less than 12 years old to more than 30 years old. There was a fifth division, which was comprised of professional skaters, where each skater was sponsored by different skate groups. 

All winners got a Gainesville150! swag bag, which included T-shirts, Hoggetowne Medieval Faire tickets, lip balm and other small items. The first place winners got skateboards. 

Etling said Billy Rohan, a 39-year-old Gainesville resident and skater, came up with the idea for the competition and brought together his friends to coordinate it. 

Rohan, who owns Samurai Skateshop at 920 NW Second St., also suggested bringing urban art to the celebration. Artists painted colorful murals on walls during the event.

Raquel Vallejo, a Gainesville150! team member and project manager of 352walls, a public art project that creates murals in Gainesville, said after seeing the great turnout of the event she expects it to happen again in the future. 

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The first-place winner of the sponsored division competition, John Velote, is a Gainesville resident who has skated for 15 years and found out about the event through Samurai Skateshop.

Dunyea Grant, a 20-year-old UF electrical engineering major, attended the event with a UF dance group, The Hip Hop Collective. Grant said there was a lot of energy at the event that made attendees feel like true Gainesville natives, especially in the spirit of the city’s 150th anniversary.

Contact Anna Wilder at Follow her on Twitter at @anna_wilderr. 

Sly Sullivan, a 22-year-old local skater, practices for the Possum Creek Skate Park Jam on Saturday.

Stephen Teques, a 25-year-old local skater, practices at the Possum Creek Skate Jam on Saturday.

Zack Squiers, an 18-year-old Santa Fe physical therapist assistant student, practices on his Razor scooter.

Skate Jam Judges Nate Coning, 44, Ben Andrews, 46, and Matt Wiles, 45, judged the Possum Creek Skate Park competition that brought out local skaters.

Aedyn Martinez, an 11-year-old Gainesville local, performs in the Possum Creek Skate Jam Saturday.

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Anna Wilder

Anna Wilder is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter. She's from Melbourne, Florida, and she enjoys being outdoors or playing the viola when she's not writing. 

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