Lynch Family Skatepark opens in Cambridge
Two thousand people, old and young, gathered in the cold, blustery wind on Saturday equipped with skateboards, BMX bikes, and roller blades for the opening of a skatepark that took more than a decade to build.
Tucked below the quiet hum of two highway ramps near the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the bowls, ramps, hard ledges, and railings of the Lynch Family Skatepark occupy what was once a wasteland left by the Big Dig.
On Saturday, hip-hop and rock music played as hundreds of skaters waited for their turn to glide and grind along the 40,000-square-foot smooth concrete space.
The opening was kicked off with a performance in the park by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and appearances by pro skaters Tony Alva and Ray Barbee and local pro Andy MacDonald.
"It was an amazing turnout. The place was alive with young people eager to use that skatepark," said Renata von Tscharner, founder and president of the Charles River Conservancy, the nonprofit organization that led the park's construction. "It was such a happy yet harmonious gathering, and I think it will stay that way."
The skatepark is named after the Lynch Foundation, which donated $800,000 to help fund construction. Co-founder Peter Lynch gave a speech in memory of his late wife, Carolyn, who died in October, and was a strong supporter of the park.
The inspiration for a place for people to skate legally in Boston belongs to Nancy Schön, a sculptor who had the idea after talking to youngsters who were skating on her sculpture in Copley Square, "Tortoise and Hare."
"Police were taking them down to the station, the architects didn't like them. They were having their boards taken away, they were treated like criminals rather than athletes," Schön said.
At first, the idea for a skatepark in Boston was met with disapproval, she said. Schön was eventually able to raise money, and form a partnership with the Conservancy, and later the Lynch Foundation. The Conservancy finally broke ground on the park last year, after the footwear and apparel company Vans donated $1.5 million to the project.
"It's the most exciting sculpture that I had anything to do with," Schön said Saturday. "It's a dream come true."
It was also a dream come true for parents and their children who had come to the opening.
"This is very exciting for Boston, for kids and adults," said Brian Stevenson of Wellesley, who brought his 13-year-old son, Andrew. "We've been following the opening of the park for 5½ years."
His friend Brooke Bartletta of Hingham has also been awaiting the park's opening, and brought her 12-year-old son, Ethan, and 10-year-old daughter, Sadie.
"I think skateboarding can have a bad rep," Bartletta said. "But here, it's a culture of respect."
Andrew, Ethan, and Sadie have been skateboarding for four years. Andrew and Ethan said they have started their own business creating skateboard merchandise with their logo.
"This is a prototype," Andrew said, pointing to his neon-green speckled board. "It rides really well," he said.
Why do they skate?
"It's awesome," Ethan said, before both friends raced back to the park.
Steve Annear of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.