For decades, skateboarding was seen as a nuisance. Skateboarders were held responsible for cracked ledges, seen as insurance liabilities, and hounded by security guards. In recent years, skateboarding has become more widely accepted. Skateboarders now have a plethora of various “no-bust” options to choose from.
In Northeast Florida alone, there are 13 skateparks, nine of which are publicly funded and free to skate. Beyond those, there are a few more of the DIY-variety, of which skaters can avail themselves for the same cost: nada. And for those in the know, secret bowls and other fun spots also exist (though I’ll stay mum on their locations, for now).
In the spirit of Void’s Explore Issue—and for misers everywhere—I assembled an eclectic group of local skaters to see how many of my favoritest and free-est skateparks in Northeast Florida we could hit in the course of one day.
Taylor Greenspan, Greg Harbour, Ben Dela Pena, Maranda Spinweber, Brandy Kimbrell, Greg Snyder, Bridgette Spinney
Spot #1: The Block Skate Supply
The Block has a deep history with Jacksonville skateboarding. Owned in part by consolidated pro, Mike Peterson, The Block has always kept the actual act of skating the focus of their shop. Before it was a shop, The Block was a fully built indoor skatepark. After zoning issues prevented the park from opening, The Block opened as a retail store in Riverside. That location offered a mini-ramp, ledge and bank ramp to skate. Now in Springfield, The Block’s newest iteration offers a concrete slab with a very forgiving quarter-pipe, bank-to-ledge, and manny-pad. This was the perfect first stop to get warmed up before heading to our second destination.
Spot #2: Nuke Town
Originally a rundown factory with a skate-able gap inside, Kooktown was merely a vacant slab of concrete before 2010 (or thereabouts), when locals began to build various obstacles there. With few skating options in the area at the time, Kooktown became the meet-up spot for many Riverside skaters. When the property eventually sold, the new owner quickly made it known that there would be no further skating. Not to be discouraged, members of the local community pitched in and helped create a new DIY spot dubbed “Nuke Town.” Today, notable Nuke Town obstacles include a quarter-pipe with pool coping, a volcano with pool coping, a spine-y-type thing, and a court-to-court flat bar. It’s always a thrill watching people like Greg Harbour get creative at this park. After everyone landed their tricks it was time to break for food.
Spot #3: Emerson AKA Cuba “Hunter”
Words cannot possibly express my love for this park; I will try, though. Possibly one of the oldest free parks in Jacksonville, Cuba Hunter is basically just a chunk of metal. But the ledge is pure magic and responsible for approximately 90% of the ledge tricks I now know. Any given weekend you can catch the “murdersquad” cooking out or throwing a fun contest. The park offers something for everybody: large quarter-pipes and spine-ramp for the Hessians; a perfect ledge and mellow banks for the tech oriented. After roughly 5 p.m., the tree-line along the park offers shade on summer days, while skaters at other parks are left to bake in the scorching Florida sun. I could’ve stayed there the rest of the day if rain didn’t have other plans for us.
Spot #4: Sunshine Park
Sunshine is the newest public skatepark in Jacksonville and also the most diverse. Created by the renowned Team Pain, the park offers two bowls, a snake run, a double-set, and many street options, both big and small. Sunshine is also Brandy and Bridgette’s home park. The duo spend most of their time cruising the large, well-built bowls. On the weekends, Sunshine can get fairly crowded. If skating around a crowd isn’t for you, utilize the school days and mornings for your sessions. At this point in the day, the crew began to look a little punchy from the heat. We decided to move things to a more suitable climate.
Spot #5: Permission Skate Shop
Opened nearly one year ago by local phenom, Taylor Greenspan, Permission, to me, embodies what a skate shop should be: games of “s-k-a-t-e” in the AC, obstacles out front, skate-exclusive brands, and a very capable team. Much like The Block, Permission is one of those great places to meet up with the crew before or after a session. This was the perfect location to end our day, complete with a bench session inside the climate controlled shop.