Benicia X-Park Skatepark: Haven for Novice and Pro

Photos by Luke George Photography

Benicia’s skatepark hosts scores of kids, young adults and a few oldsters every day.

They are on skateboards, scooters and bikes, each challenging the various sections of this amazing park. These very popular sports have often been seen as extreme or outside the “normal” kids sports. They have of course been legitimized by being included in the Olympics. In fact, Nikita Ducarroz, from Santa Rosa, did much of her practicing at the Benicia skatepark, and earned a bronze medal in BMX freestyle in the Tokyo Olympics.

Participants of these sports are often individualist, competing against themselves by perfecting a trick or move, or likewise watching and competing against each other. It is a cooperative sport, in that they take turns; sometimes it’s bikes, then skateboards or scooters. To see these kids defying gravity, and sometimes realities, is a fun and inspiring thing to watch.

There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of skateboard/BMX/scooter tricks that have actual names, probably even more that don’t. In fact, riders are inventing more on a daily basis. The skateboard trick list can be broken down into basic tricks: flip and shove-it tricks, grind and slide tricks, air, pool, ramp and grab tricks, footplant tricks, balance tricks, and many others. BMX includes air tricks, grinds, flatland and scooters perform tricks on half-pipes, ramps, rails or bowls, all are part of Benicia Skatepark.

Benicia XPark Photography. A young man does a trick on a skateboard

“Benicia park is rad! It has a cool street section that tunnels through a quarter pipe area and waterfalls into a 9 foot bowl. It is fast! It also has a left hand kidney pool w/pool coping. It has a square bowl with a vert wall and a roll in that connects the square bowl with the 9 ft. bowl. Around the outside of the park there is a small 2 or 3 stair and some ledges. This park has made the small town of Benicia definitely worth the visit. It is a great park to add to any Bay Area skate trips.” -A.M. Concrete Disciples

Unlike baseball and soccer fields or tennis courts, this park has no lights, this is probably due to antiquated ideas that these sports aren’t legitimate and draw a rougher element. This is not the case. This group of young athletes are talented, strong and dedicated to their sport. They include kids from your neighborhood and visiting enthusiasts.

The park is regularly included as one of the best spots to practice skateboard, roller-blade, scooter, and BMX skills in the greater Bay Area.

Skateboard lying on its side at Benicia XPark skatepark

City Council member Trevor Macenski champions kids sports and recreation and the spaces in which they play. When asked about our skatepark, Trevor, a former skateboard rider himself, was very enthusiastic. He mentioned that the old Willow Glen skatepark was one of the best in its time and was deemed historic by the skating community. Macenski agrees that the park should be lighted and added that the time is now for parent advocates to engage with Mike Dotson, Director of Parks and Community Services. The more people advocate for the lights, the more likely they will be installed.

A few comments from the riders:

Haven Williams and Ethan Belcher

Q: What attracted you to BMX bike riding?

HW: I was attracted to BMX by my Dad who has been riding since the ‘80s. I’m also challenged by my friends to push myself to excel at new tricks.

EB: I like to go fast and jump things.

Q: How is the culture of trick riding different from other sports?

HW: The culture of doing tricks is like brotherhood, other sports are seen as competitive, whereas bmx is more community based.

EB: Riding a scooter is  an individual activity/sport that allows you to improve on.

Q: How often do you ride/practice at the skatepark?

HW: I try to ride at least a few times a week. Gotta keep those skills sharp.

EB: I ride my scooter pretty much every day. I usually meet friends at the skate park 4 – 5 days a week.

Q: Why do you want lights at the park?

HW: I’d like lights at the park, because sometimes it gets dark at 6pm in fall. It cuts the fun short. Plus lights would make it safer.

EB: It would be fun to skate at night and if there were lights we could stay later. The best part about Community Park is my grandpa, Mike Alvarez, retired Parks & Community Services Director was part of the design team for creating this great park…which makes it even more special.

Photos by Luke George Photography

Feature Photo: Trick rider Pierce Tenret of Benicia rides most every day. He says he like the challenge, the workout and that it clears his head. He and the riders wish there were lights at the park so they could ride longer.