Leading up to the 40th anniversary of the KONA Skatepark on June 22nd, we’ll be featuring guest posts from the Faces of KONA. Skaters who frequented the park over the years will tell us what the park meant to them. Here’s the first of the faces, Jacksonville artist and activist Chip Southworth:
“I remember the first time I ever went to KONA. I was nine years old and was in search of Vans—before every other white kid in America had a pair. They were hard to get. I called Vans in, and they said KONA was the place. So my mom took me. I opened the door to the park and looked out. “WOW!” I thought. Followed by, “I have got to get a skateboard.” Seriously, it was as though I had opened the door of a space capsule and had looked at a foreign planet for the first time. I still don’t think I’ve ever beat that feeling of awe and amazement.
“So thirty-something years later, I still love KONA. I grew up there. Most of my really old friendships started there. I met and got to know the heroes of my childhood —Lance Mountain, Allen Losi, Cabellero, Hawk, Billy Ruff, Jeff Phillips, Rodney Mullen, Stacey Peralta. Local legends like Buck Smith, Donny Griffin, and Kevin Lambert. Later Mike Peterson, Clyde Singleton, Dorien Porter. Shit, there are so many, I can’t even name ’em.
“My experiences at KONA were rich! I think I went almost every day for four years, before getting sent to military school (hahahaha). I’ve never stopped going. I have enjoyed the cement, the pool, and snake-run with pure love and nostalgia. KONA is a very special place to me. The Ramos family have always been like family to me. In the early 2000s, I even tried my hand at skatepark ownership. It’s a tough business, but these guys do it right, year after year. KONA is one of Jacksonville’s landmarks. It’s legendary and has been the beast on the east coast for forty years. My kids loved it, and I hope one day, my grandkids get to skate that cement. Forty years… it’s party time!”
For more information about KONA and their 40th Anniversary Party, go to konaskatepark.com