Older skateboarders flocking to skate park
LAKELAND, Fla. — Out on the course, where the concrete flows fast and smooth and skaters pull off righteous tricks on the many bumps, rails, hips, flats and curbs, Dwayne Glowner might be mistaken for just another protective dad.
And he is, but his kids — one who is 20 and twin 18-year-olds — are nowhere in sight. The children surrounding Glowner, 45, of Lakeland, are much younger than his own.
They’re also more lithe, more limber and quicker on their feet than Glowner.
But on his board, coming off a pump bump, the wind flapping at his shorts, Glowner rides tall, every bit as rad as the next dude at Lakeland SkatePark, where the gray hairs, in increasing numbers, roam.
“You challenge yourself. It’s a good way to get exercise,” said Glowner, who manufactures equipment for the newspaper industry. “I love to get out there with the kids. I don’t do anything that’s going to get me hurt. I have a business trip tomorrow.”
The city’s premier park for skateboarders and in-line skaters opened in May to great fanfare. Built for $1.3 million, it is heralded as one of the best skate parks in the state, attracting young and old.
At 46, Bruce Phillips is no novice. He’s been skateboarding for 36 years. And when the city sold its former outdoor skate facility — Adair Park — to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for its expansion, he helped organize Lakeland Skaters Alliance.
The group includes several influential business leaders, among them Phillips, who is vice president of his family business, Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware in Lakeland.
The alliance, he said, helped motivate the city to build a state-of-the-art skateboard facility at Lake Bonny Park.
“This is the nicest skate park I’ve ever seen and I’ve been all over the country,” said Phillips, dressed in black pads covering his knees and an elbow.
“We have a progressive parks department that understands not every kid wants to play baseball. It’s been an instant magnet not only for Lakeland skaters but also for skaters from all over the state.”
Among the many out-of-towners running courses on a recent Tuesday evening was Alexandria Bibiloni, 20, of Orlando, a junior at Valencia College, who learned of Lakeland SkatePark through social networking with other boarders.
“There’s something for everybody to enjoy, and it’s not big and scary,” like other parks full of deep bowls with steep, vertical walls, she said.
SkatePark has one such bowl that is 10.5 feet deep. It’s not for the squeamish, or even Bibiloni, a water park lifeguard with nine years of boarding under her belt.
But it was a cinch for Dan Brown, 51, who dropped into the abyss with practiced ease, rounding the bottom and shooting skyward, sweat glistening his crop of silver hair.
“This is where you’ll see a lot of us older dudes doing their tricks,” said Brown, a computer programmer in the plastic injection molding industry who lives in Tampa. “This is a de-stresser for sure.”
PHOTO: In this July 30, 2013 photo, Dan Brown, 51, of Tampa, skateboarded at the Lakeland Skatepark, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/The Lakeland Ledger, Rick Runion)