Monday Feb 19

JAWS Skate Park Opens in New Braunfels

JAWS Skate Park celebrated their grand opening and the movers and shakers of New Braunfels came out to show their support. Watch the video!

The New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department estimated about 2 or 3 thousand people came out during the opening weekend. The brand new skatepark is located in Eikel Park where San Antonio Street meets I-35. James Skinner, president of the JAWS Task Force, was expecting a large crowd and he wasn’t disappointed. “We expect over 100,000 skaters will pass through our skate park each year,” explained Skinner. That’s a lot of skating, but this specially designed park offers many challenges for all types of skaters. I watched from the sidelines as skaters of all ages put the course through its paces. Trick skaters, conventional skaters and even beginners seemed to feel right at home at JAWS. The city of New Braunfels can now claim another major tourist attraction within its city limits.

Go here to view images of the opening ceremonies and action photos of the skaters at the JAWS skate park.

The story about how the JAWS skatepark started as a dream and became a reality is extremely inspiring. Basically the Skinner family applied for a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation and won a $25,000 award in 2007. “It was a three year labor of love,” recalls Skinner. “We did an amazing amount of work in applying for this grant. It’s almost like writing a book. There were design drawings, photos, marketing studies, endorsements, just a massive amount of work and planning went into this dream.

Tony Hawk is a world champion skater and his foundation funds skate parks all across America and things started falling into place. The criteria for the park is that it must be in a poor neighborhood, open to the public, be all concrete and be run by kids. When we won the award in 2007, his foundation said we were their poster child of how to go about getting a skate park built.”

In addition to offering a first class skate park, they will also feature live music during special events. “We realize that young local bands often have a tough time finding places to play,” explained Skinner. “We want to be that place. We are providing a venue for these bands to play. We are thinking of creating a music festival to coincide with a skater festival this fall.

The New Braunfels Wurstfest Foundation donated a hefty amount of money to the skate park and we’ve talked with them about co-coordinating a Wurstfest skate event and music festival. This is coming up in the fall and we’re hoping it will gather momentum and become its own self perpetuating event complete with skater competition, with skaters coming in from all over the place, bands coming in to play.

When we first got the idea for the skate park and decided to feature live music, our first thoughts were to bring in some bigname talent, whether it be bands or skaters. Then we kind of rethought it and said ‘wait a minute, what are we doing?’ This is a local venue and it’s for local skaters and the whole vision of the future is to showcase local talent. This is the tone we want to set going forward. We are quickly becoming a regional skate park, and will be attracting skaters from Austin and San Antonio and other surrounding cities. We are very optimistic about bringing in some dollars to our area and to the neighborhood where the park is located.”

Kin of Cain kicked off the music shortly before noon and tore through an hour long set. This young band is all skaters and their music leans more to the heavy metal format, and they certainly excel at what they do.

Up next was 1 Car Pileup, another talented young band from New Braunfels. The group consists of Christian Ellis on lead guitar and vocals, Josh Duliban on bass and vocals, Matt Moreno on rhythm guitar and vocals and Cameron Martin on drums and vocals. All band members are students at New Braunfels High School and each have an average of 3 years experience of playing music. They have all been friends since the 5th grade and started 1 Car Pileup this past January. After months of solid rehearsals, they were ready for some live gigs.

Their set list at the JAWS Skate Park grand opening consisted of original tunes and a few carefully chosen cover songs. Any band that can do songs by BTO, Steve Miller, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd are OK in my book.

I’m not sure how many skaters came out on Saturday for the grand opening but the skate park was crowded the entire time I was there. They have safe, clean restrooms and several areas set aside to get out of the weather and relax with a cool snack. Visitors to New Braunfels will want to add JAWS Skate Park to their list of things to do. So don’t forget, on yournext vacation or visit to New Braunfels, pack those skates, skateboards, helmet and pads.