June 22, 2012 by Benji
MORE THAN 1,000 SKATEBOARDERS SWARM DETROIT
By Steve Neavling
It was an odd, glorious scene.
More than 1,000 skateboarders from around the globe converged Thursday on the hulking, abandoned housing projects across I-75 from Ford Field in Detroit as part of the international “Go Skate Day.”
Under a scorching sun, skateboarders blanketed the cracked tennis courts, sidewalks and parking lots of the Brewster-Douglass projects and popped tricks, grooved to hip hop and explored the ghostly towers.
“I really dig this city,” said Alex Rossman, a 24-year-old St. Louis graphic designer who was perched atop one of the 14-story towers. “Detroit doesn’t sell out. It’s real, it’s genuine.”
Rossman and his friends soaked in the scene – the whirl and clang of hundreds of skateboards, the shells of forgotten buildings and the distant whiffs of pot smoke.
Detroit was one of several cities participating in Wild in the Streets, an event that raised money for a skate park on the city’s east side, at East Davison and Klinger.
On a tennis court below the towers, Tony Hines mopped blood from his knee with a white t-shirt.
“I live for this shit,” he told me, sweat dripping from his sun-scorched forehead.
A few hours earlier, a wave of hundreds of skateboarders swallowed the northbound lane of Woodward on the way to the housing projects.
“Never seen anything like it,” a hot dog vendor told me across the street from Comerica Park.
We talked for 10 minutes.
In a city where crime steals the headlines, he said, it was a relief to see the focus on something different – kids and adults turning Detroit into a playground. Making it a community. Going against the grain.
As the day wore on, skaters slowly began dispersing, until the projects were empty again.
A skateboard beneath me, I coasted home to Canfield and Woodward.
It was a good day.