ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A week has passed since the Abilene Skate Park was closed without warning, which prompted response from the very eclectic local skater community. Most recently, our skaters have proposed an open line of communication with the City of Abilene, as well as working together to make repairs to the park.
More than just kids out for summer use the cement ramps at the Abilene Skate Park in Oscar Rose Park. Rather, for nearly 20 years, a loyal following – some would describe as an ‘eclectic family’ – has grown, creating an environment for anyone and maintaining this ‘historic’ Abilene park.
It seems like the stereotypical skateboarder could be seen in almost every 90’s MTV music video; baggy pants, sideways caps and such. However, as the skateboarder has evolved over the years, so have the interested skateboarders.
From young and old, all of them can be found riding the rails or skating up and down the worn cement ramps in Oscar Rose Park. Many are out for school, but most visit after work or during their lunch breaks.
For 30-year-old Jack Hurd, he can typically be found in a suit, tie and embroidered cuffs as he researches his next court case in his window-side office at Keith and Lorfing Law Firm.
Be that as it may, just as soon as his shift ends, the Houston-native and personal injury lawyer can be found at the Abilene Skate Park.
It was his fourth grade year when he found his love of skateboarding, watching VHS tapes of skateboarding lessons, as well as playing Tony Hawk video games. He’d ride back and forth from school on his skateboard, and continued that trend heading into college and even further into law school at Baylor.
“I think I was the only skateboarder in law school,” Hurd laughed. “In fact, they gave me the nickname Skateboard Jack on the first day.”
It did not take long for Hurd to stick out upon arriving in Waco, as the usual first day of school conversations commenced.
“People would ask what you did this summer, they’d say ‘I interned at the DA’s office or at my uncle’s law firm,’” Hurd recalled. “I would say I spent my nights at the skate park, usually.”
You could say it’s a unique hobby for someone in such a poised profession, however, Hurd doesn’t view it that way. He told KTAB/KRBC he loves the grungy, rebellious aspects associated with skateboarding. While he doesn’t come off that way to most, he believes it reflects his personality well.
“Our country was founded upon standing up for what is right and taking risks,” Hurd said. “I think skateboarding provides some of that; a confidence booster, if you will.”
When he walks through the gates at Rose Park, Hurd said he’s never once felt out of place – a lawyer among the kids, teens, original Abilene skateboarders and many more likes most people wouldn’t imagine.
“I can show up there and look like a square and get along with everybody,” Hurd said. “From the guys with cut off shirts, with tattoo sleeves, to the high school kids riding their board after school. It doesn’t matter, we’re all family.”
He may run into Sheldon Haan, 31, who visits the park during his lunch break at Kent Beck Motors. Haan told KTAB/KRBC he had been skating at the park for nearly 20-years, and said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’ve got a very eclectic group,” Haan explained. “From young to old, to the middle dudes who have been here for so long.”
Haan said he takes immense pride in their community they’ve built at the park. Not only drawing a bigger crowd from Abilene, but also from across the Big Country.
Hoping to disprove the typical grungy skateboarder stereotype, Haan said the existing community wants to create an all-inclusive environment, welcoming anyone willing to have fun on the cement and have a smile. While it’s all-encompassing fun, they also pride themselves on creating and maintaining a quality facility for the City of Abilene.
“We try and do it the best for Abilene City, we want to be as good a reputation as we can for the skate community,” Haan said.
After seeing their beloved second home littered with graffiti, these skaters said they want to partner with the City of Abilene to repair, rebuild and potentially expand the skate park.
Grateful for the City’s current help patching and covering the graffiti, Haan said it’s a match made in heaven if their open line of communication continues.
“If we can get the park cleaned up to where it’s just functionally better and it represents skateboarding and Abilene skateboarding community a lot better, we’re going to be grateful for just that,” Haan revealed.
That pride in the park resonates through each skater, whether they’re on a board, bike or skates, as they help pick up trash, clean up graffiti and even do patch work on the aging cement when need be – all parts of their skate park a staple in Abilene. Regardless of the skater’s background.
“Skateboarding has a connotation of lawlessness and anarchy,” Hurd said. “So, you don’t expect a lawyer to skateboard, but for me, it’s about falling and getting back up and the freedom it.”
KTAB/KRBC also spoke with the City of Abilene on any potential improvements or repairs being made to the Abilene Skate Park. They said it is in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and are open to suggestions from the community on how to improve it.
Click here to submit a suggestion for Oscar Rose Skate Park and fill out the master plan survey.