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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Hawk's surprise visit a skate down memory lane

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tony Hawk and Kevin Staab skate at the Putnam County Skate Park Sunday afternoon on a surprise stop during the Birdhouse World Tour. Banner Graphic/CAINE GARDNER
GREENCASTLE -- Even if you're not familiar with the skateboarding world, chances are you've heard the name Tony Hawk. He's a nine-time gold metal winner at the X-Games and the first skater to successfully land a 900, which involves two-and-a-half revolutions, during competition. But local skaters know him for something more -- he helped deliver a skate park to their backyard.

The Tony Hawk Foundation awarded a grant in the amount of $25,000 to the Putnam County Skate Park in 1999, which helped the park come to fruition. On Sunday, the skateboarding legend made a surprise stop at the facility on his way to Cincinnati during the Birdhouse World Tour.

The tour's media contact Steven Perelman acknowledged the tour had eight cities it was set to visit during the Midwest leg of the tour, but it also had three surprised demos and Greencastle was one of the lucky locales chosen.

"It's Birdhouse World Tour. We're taking the Tony Hawk SHRED game out on the road so kids can try it out and demo the new game," Perelman explained. "We've got Kicker audio with us, so they've got this super Toyota Tundra with nine subwoofers in the back and we're using that as our backdrop sound with Tony's playlist on his iPod, so it's pretty cool."

The cat was let out of the bag just a few hours before the Birdhouse crew arrived, which resulted in a sparse crowd at the beginning, but one that steadily grew as word leaked out who had descended on the skate park.

According to Hawk and Perelman, the late notice was a calculated move to allow lovers of the sport a chance to rub elbows with a legend and for Hawk to be able to spend more face-to-face time with the public.

"We have a route we're on and on our days off, so to speak, we're trying to hit parks along the way to each exhibition," Hawk said. "Sometimes it's fun for us to just do a low-key appearance because that way we can actually hang out with people and not be separated and not have a crazy crowd. And it's easier for us to skate that way too."

As Perelman stood by the fence of the skate park watching members of the Birdhouse crew perform tricks and talk to the crowd, he noted the tour has been well received, especially overseas. He said on their European tour, the turnout ranged from 3,000 to a staggering 27,000 that came to see Hawk in Barcelona.

Following an autograph session, Hawk took to the park with thunderous beats echoing in the background from the Kicker truck and skated in the blazing sun, accompanied by Kevin Staab. Staab, decked out in purple from his hair to his shoes, performed stunts and had a great rapport with the crowd, many times innocently smiling after a trick or two.

For Staab, the whole tour is about one thing and one thing only -- having fun.

"It was fun," Staab said of the afternoon session. "It was a good group of people, everybody was totally cool and they seemed stoked. It would have been nice if it was a little bit cooler, but other than that, I don't go anyplace with too many expectations except having a really good time and it was awesome.

"Everybody had a good time; all the guys got out there and did what they got to do. Now we're off to the next spot," he said.

Hawk too was impressed with the crowd that found its way to the skatepark Sunday.

"Yeah, I didn't give much warning," Hawk said. "I actually sent out a tweet a few hours before we got here and that was the only warning anyone got. But it was definitely packed. This is a Sunday and you're near a college. I'm stoked they came out to watch."

Even with the world's most known skateboarder, the Greencastle crowd was polite and courteous, something that didn't go unnoticed by Staab or Hawk.

"It's a lot of fun," Staab said. "It' great ya know -- totally cool. Everyone seems very appreciative and stoked, so we're just happy we get to do this stuff. It's amazing. I've been doing it a long time and it's nice to go check something new out."

Echoing Staab's sentiment, minutes after leaving Greencastle, Hawk posted "Thanks Greencastle, most polite autograph line ever" on his Twitter account.

The Birdhouse World Tour has two more stops on this leg of the tour (Knoxville, Tenn. and Athens, Ga.), but Perelman said more dates might come later in the year.

"It's a whirlwind trip -- it's really quick," Perelman said. "This is the follow-up leg of our European part of our tour. We just got back from eight countries, starting in Berlin and finishing in Brighton, UK last month, so this is just a continuation of the tour."

The crowd Sunday was comprised of every age group, but it also featured a significant number of young kids; skateboards in hand watching the skaters do their thing. Hawk said having a facility such as they have is something that couldn't have happened when he was a kid.

"It's great," he said. "I think kids are getting into skating younger and younger these days and the fact that a town like Greencastle has a facility like this, which shows how far we've come. Because when I was growing up there were only a handful of skate parks in the world."

Asked how it felt to skate in a place he had a big hand in helping come to be, the professional skater disappeared and the kid that just loves to skate took the forefront.

"That's part of the reason why we came. It's great. I love to be able to selfishly skate the things we help create. Beyond just the charitable aspect of it, but actually be able to go ride these things that I help design is so much fun. It's a dream come true," Hawk said.

The Birdhouse World Tour is sponsored by Birdhouse Skateboards, Kicker, Quicksilver, Tech Deck and Truth. The tour stops in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday and Athens, Ga. on Sept. 26.

To find out more about the tour or skaters visit www.birdhouseskateboards.com. To see video of Sunday's event, check out www.shredordie.com/video/birdhouse-midwe...


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