Viewpoint: Talent Skatepark, a watering hole for the community

ERICA FRY-DELAPORTAS

Erica Fry-Delaportas is the parent of two skateboarders and lives in Shelburne.

“The unexpected events are the most transformative.”

Months ago, I scribbled that down on a sleepless night, sensing I might need to reference it. This expression has certainly been true in many aspects of my life. As the need to write to my community occurred, it only seems relevant to refer to it now, to describe a major positive force and influence in the development of my two teenage son’s lives – the former Talent (indoor) Skatepark, otherwise known as their “home away from home,” which needs the community’s support to re-open its doors by the end of the year.

I’ll never forget signing my kids up (then 8 and 10) for skateboard camp five years ago at Talent Skatepark. My mother was with us and we will forever share the vivid memory that resulted. Not from my fear they’d injure themselves, but because of an abbreviated exchange between a father and son that we heard.

“I’ll pick you up at 7!”

“Awesome!” 

It was noon. Like a magnet pulling the energy between my mother and me, our necks turned and our eyes met, showing utter confusion as our lungs inhaled with exasperation. I hadn’t ever left my kids anywhere for that length of time. The shock wore off quickly, as within two weeks, my sons were staying all day as well. It was obvious from the perpetual grins on their faces that they were somewhere that fueled their passion, made them feel safe and gave them encouragement.

Talent Skatepark was open for 17 years, the last five of which I was humbled to experience. “You don’t know how lucky you are until you lose something.” That expression never applied because my husband and I were continuously reminded of how lucky we were on a daily basis. That’s why we were so devastated when Talent Skatepark closed in the summer of 2018. Sure, our kids gained physical, technical skills like how to do a wall ride, boardside-hurricane, and kickflip-backlip, among countless others. But with those they also learned about patience and persistence, all while gaining independence and confidence. They had intense fun and formed strong friendships. They absorbed the values and tone set by the owners of acceptance and inclusivity and then in turn set that example to anybody younger than them, looking up to them for guidance. They had a physical place to socialize that didn’t involve a screen or instant gratification, that far too often defines most things for kids. It was a cycle of positivity.

Talent Skatepark was a like a watering hole for the community. Over the years, thousands of individuals, of all ages, from different backgrounds and skill sets came to it to get what they needed to be enriched and nourished- albeit physical, emotional or both. Closing its doors was not because of disinterest but because it wasn’t financially sustainable as a small business. Because the thought of not having Talent was unimaginable, a group of parents under the leadership of the owners formed a non-profit organization, with a restructured plan to ensure ongoing viability. They have been working tirelessly to reopen so the benefits of an indoor skatepark can continue to be a positive force in our community and an extension of so many people’s families.

Donations are integral to provide for the blank slate of the acquired space. Funds for walls, doors, paint, ramps, rails, ledges, insulation, among various other necessities all need to be raised! Please consider a donation as a way to support such a pillar in our community that we are lucky to have! There is an online GoFundMe account or checks can be sent to Talent Skatepark, Inc. P.O. Box 4632, Burlington VT 05406-4632. There is an additional ticketed “Grazing Dinner” fundraiser on 10/20 put on by the chefs of Honey Road, the Great Northern, Hen of the Woods, Juniper/Hotel VT, Bleu Northeast Seafood and Hindquarter. Tickets can be purchased online. Get them while they last and know that all of the proceeds from your night out are helping get the doors open before the end of the year!

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