By Cleo Coney Jr.
April 9th 2011 loomed like a pending meteor strike on the planet’s surface.
Some how the folks at the Florida Skateboard Hall of Fame had nominated and selected me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside my Florida skateboarding hero’s!
Nah, no way, this can’t be correct. This has to be a stunt, a set up on an episode of PUNK’D!
Let me start from the beginning. Back in March I received a call from my skate brother down in Miami, Rob Weir. Rob and I go way back to my college days as a Miami Dade South campus freshman. Rob calls me and asked me if I was sitting down, he then proceeds to tell me that I was selected by current members, to the Florida Skateboard Hall Of Fame.
What! I’m in the Florida Skateboard Hall of Fame? I don’t believe that for a minute!
Well, a few days later I get a phone call from a member of my old Saint Petersburg skate crew, our old ramp owner himself, John Grigley. John tells me I’m in the H.O.F. and that he was the key vote in selecting me to the H.O.F, and he wanted to personally tell me. Hmmm, I remember Rob telling me that Steve Marinak said his vote was key in my being selected too. Well, I know for sure this is a set up now! These guys are going to hit me in the face with a big whipped cream pie, pull the rug out from under me, then hose me down with reclaimed water, and video tape the whole thing and put it on YouTube! Yeah, something like that is brewing I’m sure.
I had planned on attending the Hall Of Fame Event up in Jacksonville Florida to cover it for Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine anyway. So, if they are going to play a trick on me, might as well write about it.
Now, in working out the details for this trip, it was decided that riding up part of the way with my old skate buddy Bill Procko would help save a few clams (for those not in the know, clams are equal to: Mula, Skrilla, Greenbacks, Scratch, Cheese, Dead Presidents, Ducketts, Dough, Coin, Cash etc.,) I keep forgetting that not everybody is as old as I am.
Tampa crew in the house!
Bill and Kim Procko deliver raffle deck to the winner.
The Florida Skate Museum owner Kyle Sokol.
Anyway, once Bill’s home was reached I had to get a good look at the new Zip Line installed on his property. It’s over four hundred feet of cable stretched out through the forest from the upper deck of his beautiful home, which is built right next to the Suwannee River. The Zip experience ends down line with a bungee braking system. Bill Procko does Amazing Tarzan stuff regularly, so it’s always interesting to see what his next project is. I felt it best to just observe these happy go lucky types flying off his porch into the dense woods, and becoming all so very tiny as they quickly sped into the distance.
The next morning we head off to KONA Skate Park, the oldest, longest running skate park in existence in the U.S.A. today! I have so many great memories skating at KONA as a Block headed, skinny little teenager it has me very eager to skate! Once we arrive and depart Bill’s Van, my mind instantly replays images of years past, as if by magic the sun quietly reminds me of those, super heated sessions of long ago. Those killer sessions where Billy Beauregaurd was flapping Andrechts and Chris Baucom unleashed those scary front side foot plants! Kona’s original concrete Bowls are still in the mix, the super fun snake run rules supreme these days, and on this day it was getting quite a lot of traffic from us older skaters. The snake run is just so fun!
I helped Bill set up his booth and then went for some food and ice cold water. Whew! It is so hot here today. A quick look around KONA’s huge complex one realizes how much the park has actually grown since the old days. There’s an extended campground, a huge street course, a massive half-pipe, a sick pool to skate, and a whole lot more. Up above and behind the original KONA half-pipe sat the H.O.F. tent where the festivities would kick off later in the evening.
The coolest thing about a gathering like this is that many of the best show up. Great skaters from various skate eras make the pilgrimage to a new location every three or so years. This year wouldn’t be any different as several of the best ever were in the house. All around skaters like Kelly Lynn, George McClellan, and Chuck Dinkins, plus Buck Smith, Mark Lake, Binky Conklin, Peggy Turner, Dan Murray, Steve Marinak, Bruce Walker, Mike Rogers, Lenny Byrd, Todd Webb, Ed Womble, Paul Schmitt, Chris Baucom, John Grigley, Bill Procko, Lonnie Reiter, Walter Lewellen, Bruce Whiteside, Rob Weir, Karen Snyder, Donny Griffin, Marty Ramos, Steve Fisher, Ray Diez, Jimmy Plummer, Steve Workman, Reggie Barnes, the Pineiro Brothers and a host of other rad skaters. Celebrity notables brought out the Tampa crew from the S.P.O.T. both Ryan Clements and Brian Schaefer were seen in the mix, plus the Florida Skate Museums curator Kyle Sokol. There are just too many names to mention all of them, but what a great crowd filled with skateboarders from all over the country.
Lonnie throwing up some peace.
The pool session was heating up as the sun began to slide down in the horizon just as the band “Sadly Mistaken” was ripping things up on the lip of the Pool. The band’s frenzied energy was being fed on by the skaters riding the pool. For those of us not skating at the time, a food line began to form near the rear of the H.O.F. tent, and Buddha bellies like mine were in it with the quickness. A catered southwestern buffet was in effect, thank you very much Mr. Ramos!
Peggy Turner in the white top with friend.
When the announcement was made that things were about to start, my eyes scanned nervously for the hidden camera’s that would record the biggest “PSYCH” trick played on a person ever. Everyone seemed calm, so I was relaxed too. Dan Murray launched the video of the skaters to be inducted and not enough can be said about the tedious amount of work both he and Steve Marinak put into these events! Not to mention the great video editing and sound mixing, plus, the creation of H.O.F. jackets and awards! I know there are probably others involved here but those two really shined.
It was great to see Ray Diez, and Steve Fisher, talk about those glory days of Skateboarding that most of us still remember. Just seeing those guys in Kryptonic Shirts and big smiles on their faces while taking photos with the balance of the Krypto team George McClellan was worth the drive. I can’t forget Steve Anderson’s speed in the half-pipe, or Ray Diez’s smooth flow on long board slides, or Steve Fisher rock n rolling the vertical extensions in Clearwater’s half-pipe! These were moments that I lived over and over again in my head as a very young skateboarder. Steve Anderson who was unable to attend the event because of his teaching gig in China, sent a thank you video that featured his young students repeating skateboarding trick names in English and promoting his favorite tricks from the past, instantly became a classic and crowd favorite, too funny!
I’m still stoked. The video of Karen Snyder was evidence of her skills as a freestyle skater. I never got to skate with her back in the day but there’s still time to session with her. But not only did she get inducted, but her brother Craig Snyder as well for his photo contributions to the sport over the years. He was unable to attend but was there in spirit, as we all looked upon his great photographic work in his segment of the induction video.
Listening to these skaters talk about family, the skateboarding family and how that bond helped them or pushed them to do better is exactly how I feel about the sport. Skateboarders are one big family. The sport that I began at age eight only by accident has embraced my efforts, and now my name is being called to come forward in front of my skate family, to be inducted into the Florida Skateboard Hall of Fame. I guess this isn’t a joke on me after all, these very talented skateboarders, these hero’s of mine, the people I continue to look up to from my wall posters as a kid, they have decided together to include me in their midst. Wow! Thirty-nine years after I picked up my first skateboard with clay wheels here I am. Today I’m humbled, and so grateful for skateboarding.
Push, Carve, Grind!