King Of Kona 2013
Well, my trip hadn’t exactly gotten off to a proper start. My 7am non-stop to Florida had been canceled due to “technical issues” with the planes engines, a comforting thought. So in lieu of this, I made the call to take a re-routed flight to Washington DC, and then a connecting flight to Florida. Now, one must understand, that if you go with this option, the airline basically just sticks you in the worst possible seat they have available, and call it a day. So in true airline fashion, I got stuck in the middle seat between the panicking elderly woman who wreaks of fabric softener, and the overweight middle aged Russian man with a case of bad gas. I just made it a point to continuously remind myself that I’m doing this for the love of the shred. Just a few more hours, and I’ll get to Florida.
The first two days in Florida tumbled by in a blur of trade show booths, introductions, and thirty second conversations. Arriving in Orlando two days prior to the event, former Florida local Sara Paulshock had swooped me from the airport and transitioned us right into the Surf Expo trade show. With all the various skate teams in town to showcase their wares of the new year, the stage had been set for the King of Kona park jam to go off without a hitch. After the 48 hour public relations marathon that was Surf Expo, the time had finally come to make the trek from Orlando to Jacksonville, some two and a half hours north. G-Form sales rep and fellow Loaded compatriot Mike Girard had offered to give me a lift to the event. Outfitted with a rental car, a hotel room, and a suitcase with more impact resistant laptop cases than an Apple store, Mike G. and I made our way up the coast, bound for the legendary Kona skatepark.
Believe it or not, I used to be into BMX. Like, really into BMX. Street and skateparks had always been my environment of choice. Making good on all the features, always going the extra mile to attempt every line I could concoct in my overly analytic head. So this hadn’t been my first time around ramps and transitions. But what I couldn’t have prepared myself for was the sheer massiveness that was Kona skatepark. I had heard stories, elaborate tales of epic proportions. Feverish anecdotes recalling the renowned snake run, the seemingly infinite lines of shred. The potential to achieve a new form of skating enlightenment through creative sight. Countless trails of shredding ecstasy blazed over weathered hips and spines, banks and quarters. Yes, I had heard stories, but nothing could have prepared me for just how thrilling the oldest, still operating skatepark in the United States actually was to be.
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The two days that followed thereafter were to be something more along the lines of a spiritual experience versus just an actual skate jam. Try to imagine what two non-stop days of beers, barbecue, and boards would be like. Try to imagine skating until you physically cannot function, your mind begging your soul for one more run. Your legs and thighs aching in joyous contempt. Imagine a snake run that wills you back to the top. The whole skatepark itself takes on a sort of personification, beckoning you to forego your earthly concerns, your physical tethers. Kona skatepark exists more as a grand church of skate rather than just a five or ten acre collection of weathered looking ramps and slopping constructed concrete depressions. It’s a majestic cathedral of shred, as Maryhill is to downhill, so is Kona to park. You didn’t just skate Kona, you lived it.
Kona therefore, is something you can’t compare to any other event. It’s a sort of three way co-mingling between people, skateboarding, and the environment. An expression of one’s character through the various elements and features of the park itself. After two days, the people you skated with became more of an extended family. You inherently bonded with all those around you, everyone completely enveloped together in an odd mixture of stoke and fatigue, hangover and sheer elation.
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It had been two solid days, and I found myself sitting in an empty skatepark. Three or four tents were still in the process of being taken down. A lonely beer bottle lay on its side off in the grass, forgotten gloves, a tough looking helmet, calm. The event organizer, Cameron Frazier, strolled the compound with a garbage bag, collecting cans and forgotten articles of clothing. Hardly the role you could have contributed to a man who had pulled off what most had deemed as impossible. The original King of Clermont event had been scrapped only weeks before it’s happening, a daunting debacle that would have brought even the most stalwart of event promoters to their knees, but Cameron had prevailed. He had pulled a proverbial rabbit out of his hat. The King of Kona jam had been something of a dream to us. A non-stop party of epic proportions filled with every element you could have ever hoped for. So while the original plan may have fallen through, it gave way to a happy accident of which the likes I’ll never forget. Thank you Cam, and thank you Kona, I’ll undoubtably be back next year.
Thanks for reading!
Now go be like Cam and throw your own successful skate event!