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April 17 skateboard competition for kids and teens is part of the Real Florida Festival


Holmes Beach had a couple of skateboard competitions years ago when the city's Micro-Skate Park was new, but they died out, says Mark "Boltz" Boltwood -- until this year, when former Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore called him, and Ronnie at the West Coast Surf and Skate Shop, and talked them into doing another competition, just like they did in the old days. This version of the competition, while open only to the 18 and under set, is part of the all-ages Real Florida Festival, which celebrates "our wonderful Old Florida heritage."

Boltz, 24, is "totally behind" this competition and is working hard to make it a success. Besides his job doing pool maintenance and repair, he and a friend are now working as Six Third Productions, and made flyers for the event and are doing everything they can to promote it.  

Six Third is one of three sponsors of the GROM (slang for a young or newbie skater or surfer) Skate Contest. The other two sponsors are the City of Holmes Beach and the West Coast Surf and Skate Shop.

Registration costs $10 until April 15, and goes up to $20 after the 15th or at the door, assuming there are any entry slots still available by then. There are five classes of skaters in the contest, ranging from ages 6 and under up to 16-18, and the top three finishers in each one will get a trophy.

You can download an entry form (pdf) here.

All skaters will be required to sign a waiver (and, if they're under 18,  have their parent or guardian sign it) and to wear appropriate safety equipment.

Boltz remembers the bleak days before 2002, when the Holmes Beach Micro-Skate Park was built. "We were illegal," he says of himself and other young skateboarders on Anna Maria Island. "We just wanted a place to skate." He and friends picketed for a skate park, and in the end they got one. It's a "Micro-Skate Park because it's mostly for little kids," Boltz says. "The idea is to give kids someplace safe to play with their skateboards," rather than cater to the over-18 crowd, who "can find lots of places to go."

Skateboarders once had a reputation for being troublemakers. "Like, you know, bikers," Boltz says, and back when he and his fellow skate kids were trying to get a skate park built, they also had to overcome the (adult) perception that skateboarding was a fad that wouldn't last.

But skateboarding, which started in California during the 1950s (or perhaps even the 1940s) has not proved to be a short-lived fad. Instead, it has become a sport enjoyed by millions of people all over the world.  

You might even look at Boltz as an example of how the sport has matured. While he's not as old as well-known local skateboarders Geza Darrah and Old School Jeff, neither of whom will ever see 30 again, he's a productive, adult member of society -- and is now organizing an event whose proceeds will go to support the free Anna Maria Island Trolley, a local transportation institution popular not only with skateboard-toting kids but also with their grandmothers and grandfathers -- and with thousands of retireees who spend their winters on Anna Maria Island and use the trolley as their main transporation while they're here.



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