When skaters from the Philly area heard that LOVE Park was going to be fenced in and broken up Tuesday, they knew they had to skate it on Monday.
“That’s why we’re out here today,because it’s the last day. We were like ‘We have to skate, we have to do something,'” saidJakiah Saffold, 17, from South Jersey. “We were saying like ‘We have to go, we have to go.'”
LOVE Park, long a hub of illegal skateboarding and afamed destination for skateboard enthusiasts from around the world, will on Tuesday be permanently closed to all skateboarders and other visitiorsas it begins $20 million worth ofrenovations that are expected to take about a year.
The park’s iconic Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture will be temporarily removed, the famous fountain will be shut down, and the entire park —which sits on top of a parking garage that it has been leaking water into —will be reconstructed from scratch with a new design.
But its gently graded shallow steps in a circular formation were already the perfect design for decades of skateboarders.
“I used to come down here when I was a kidand see the peopleskating,” said Casey Kerrigan, 25, a Temple photography student who was shooting photos ofskateboarders in the snow on Monday.
“They say alittle bit ofskateboarding is dying,” he said. “It’s kinda cool [Jim] Kenney opened up the park for one last hurrah.”
Last Wednesday Mayor Jim Kenney formally broke ground on the LOVE Park renovation,and announced that the ban on skateboarding in the park would be lifted until the renovations began.
“When we sawthe post about the mayor letting the skaters back, it was like a dream,” Saffold said. “It was like, ‘Naw, he’s not letting us back in.'”
LOVE Park has such fame as a skateboarding hot-spot it’s even a level in the Tony Hawk skateboarding video game. More infamously,It was the sight of a violent altercation between a park ranger and a group of skateboarding teens in 2014that left one teenager jailed for nine months on assault charges.
But in recent days, skateboarding groups from the west coast and theU.K. have highlighted LOVE Park’s final daysy, tagging their social media posts #lastdaysoflove.
“Itmeans a lot to the skate culture. This is one of the longest standing places that skateboarding has,” Saffold said. “It being torn down is really sad.”
Despite the loss of LOVE Park, the skateboarders may come back some day.
“I’m kind oflooking forward to the new park,” Kerrigan said. “Idon’t know if they’re gonna skate-proof it when it comes back around, but we’ll see.”
— Shralpin Skateboards (@shralpin) February 13, 2016