Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kona - The Parent Lounge

We're back at Kona today. The sun is out and, for Jacksonville in May, it's delightfully cool - about 75 degrees Fahrenheit - and there's a light breeze. Perfect for me!

Sk8terdude was here as soon as the doors opened at 1 p.m. He took a one hour private lesson with Grady, a local teen who's been skating here for about seven years.

While he was skating, I was at my favorite parent lounge: one of the many Starbucks which populate the Jacksonville landscape. (Is it just me, or does everyone think Jacksonville is just one giant strip mall?) Many thanks to L. (my friend B's sister) who took an hour out of her busy parenting life to meet me for some conversation and some passion tea lemonade.

When L. headed out to pick up her kids at school, I returned to Kona, where I'm currently blogging from the parent lounge (pictured here).

When they said the parent lounge consisted of a few booths in the skate shop, they weren't kidding! Fortunately, Erin and Amber, the two young women behind the counter, have been both friendly AND informative.

Erin tells me that the skate park covers approximately 1.5 acres, although the property totals about 6 acres. Open since 1977, it is the oldest continuously operating commercial park in the United States (maybe the world?). Over the years they've hosted everything from the Tony Hawk Pro-Tour to the first-ever vert ramp contest in skateboard history.

I asked Erin and Amber if they are also skateboarders. Both admitted that although they used to skate, they've mostly given up the sport. We had an interesting conversation about the barriers to entry for women in skateboarding, including the fact that the male-dominated park can be intimidating to women (especially young women) trying to learn. Kona does host "Ladies Night" on Monday evenings, when women can skate free, and there's a discount every day for women who want to skate at the park.

According to Amber, Kona also broke ground by hiring women to work in the skate shop. And although she acknowledges the sexist undertones of the decision (after all, cute girls behind the counter might lead to additional business from hormonal teen boys!), she also says she loves putting the boards together. With a lot of friends who skate here regularly, Amber says the job is fun, even when she works six-day weeks (in the summer) and long hours (during contests).

Apparently there are some young girls who skate here (although I've only seen two so far) and I'm told there are some skating moms, too...but not THIS mom!

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