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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, July 09, 2007

Nazareth's New Skatepark: Will it Dispel or Reinforce the Stereotype?

The skateboarding mystique.

Let's be honest. With their bizarre language, dress and style, skateboarders are anti-establishment. They like it that way.

Yesterday was a perfect example of their mystique, at least to me. On one of the hottest days this summer, I saw a herd of them at Nazareth's new skatepark, which officially opens next Saturday. I spoke with a skater wearing a black cap (sideways), bulky trousers and a piercing in his face. He was oblivious to the blood, mixed with sweat, streaming down his right arm.

Despite this unsettling appearance, it's a relatively safe activity. Every year, 26 thousand skateboarders, mostly kids under 15, are treated in hospital emergency rooms. That may seem high, but it's a lot less than the number of kids treated for cycling injuries - 373,000! At least 100 of those kids pay the ultimate price.

In addition to being relatively safe, it's clearly a sport, too. A group of Nazareth kids made and posted a video (love the music) that demonstrates their athletic ability.

Negative Public Attitude Towards Skateboarding.

As athletic as they may be, skateboarders are foreign to most of us. We grew up with baseball, football and basketball. Few of us understand that kids who like to skateboard are no different than kids who play any of the more established sports.

Ross at NewsOverCoffee states the common attitude. "[M]any people are not happy with the general lack of respect displayed by many of the skateboarders in town. The lack of respect is for both property and individuals. Kids have used personal, private property for their own amusement, have been rude and disrespectful to individuals who have asked them to move along, have had a disregard for public safety by skating in intersections off curbs during daytime and evening hours and down the middle of the road despite holding up vehicle traffic."

My own experience is much different. Once you get past the goofy tee shirts, those kids are pretty much the same as the ones playing baseball and football. Most of them are being condemned simply because they are different. Only a very few are disrespectful.

It should come as no surprise that this general public resentment is shared by many police officers. That's expressed pretty clearly on the YouTube video at the beginning of this post. A Hot Springs, Arkansas cop lays the smack down on "Go Skateboarding Day." He chokes a 13 year-old boy, puts a neck lock on a teen-aged boy and girl simultaneously, and throws the boy to the ground like a rag doll. Conan? 'Roid rage? Amazingly, this officer has already been cleared and is back on the job, keeping the world safe from skateboarders.

Sadly, what happened in Hot Springs occurs pretty much everywhere else, too. A Philly skater was harassed by two cops at LOVE park, of all places. In addition to screaming that he was a druggie and "some kind of retard," cops broke this guy's glasses in the course of throwing him to the ground.

Now I realize they haven't broken out the hoses, but since when is it appropriate to respond to a petty summary offense with neck locks and throwing children to the ground? By that nitwit logic, we should all be bodyslammed every time we get an overtime parking ticket.

Nazareth's new skatepark already a focal point of public resentment.

Nazareth will be opening a public skatepark this coming Saturday. It's located right inside Nazareth park. It will be one of only seventeen skateparks in Pennsylvania. Much of the credit for this goes to councilman Jack Herbst, who has devoted six years to making this project a reality.

This park can dispel many of the common myths about skateboarding. But that won't happen if Nazareth police are unwilling to give it a chance. Let me tell you what has already happened.

As you enter Nazareth park, the very first thing you see is a large sign telling you dogs and booze are both verboten. Gambling, too, bippy. And ATVs. Once you pass this sign, the skatepark is on your left and two nice basketball courts are on your right. If you go a little farther into the park, close to the pool, a sign warns you that bikes and skateboards are prohibited beyond that point.

Now a logical person would conclude, based on that sign, that skateboards and bicycles are permitted before you get to that point. But this is the People's Republic of Nazareth, so you can throw logic right out the window.

Although the skatepark won't officially open until Saturday, it's already getting heavy use. And Nazareth police have already arrested at least one kid who dared skateboard on an unused basketball court located right next to the damn skatepark! He was fined $157, and his board was confiscated as "evidence" for over a week. He had no idea that he was doing anything illegal because no signs are posted that prohibit skateboards in that area of the park, and the basketball court is right next to the frickin' skatepark.

This is pure harassment. In addition to the lack of notice, this skater was bothering no one. He even asked basketball players on the other court for permission before he began grinding. Police were told he had their permission, but that didn't matter.

I suspect what really upset police is that this boy ignored them when they originally shouted at him. "You will respect My Authority." They assumed he was being disrespectful because that is, after all, the common misperception. In truth, the poor kid never even heard them. He skates with an ipod implanted in his skull, a common occurrence among teens these days.

"I was making gnar on my shredsled and never saw the bacon."

Translation: "I was so preoccupied I never heard the police officers."

What about dem dogs?

One sign that is plastered throughout the park is a prohibition against dogs, even those without skateboards. But as I saw myself yesterday, plenty of dogs are walked right through that park. Funny thing. There were no arrests Saturday night, when I attended an entertaining outdoor presentation of Oedipus Rex at Nazareth Park. Many Nazareth dogs must be classical scholars because at least ten of them were there for the play.(Maybe they know Rex!).

I sat in the cheap seats (on the grass), but I'm sure those dogs are so cultured they wouldn't think of relieving themselves on the public green.

Besides, dogs are man's best friend, while skateboarders are slackers who deserve what they get. Might as well be illegal aliens. Right?

A more enlightened view.

Not all cops are this insensitive. A few weeks ago, a detachment of Wilkes-Barre's finest was dispatched to quell seventy skateboarders demonstrating for their own skatepark in Luzerne County. Many of them took off when they saw the cops. Those that remained had a pleasant surprise. Three officers signed their petition, and with flashing lights, gave these kids an escort.

The skatepark is an important recognition, but means nothing if cops and the general public retain such a negative attitude. That's where Nazareth police are wrong.

The charges against that young boy should be dismissed. They are going to be dismissed anyway, but police could open up a line of communication if they dismissed the charges themselves. It's a thought.

Nazareth, like Wilkes-Barre, is an old town. Our kids leave the second they can get out of here. Part of it is jobs. But another big part is a community with an intolerant attitude. That's the worst way to attract or retain young professionals.


Anonymous said...

Skateboarders are their own breed. I was at heritage day today in Easton and saw a massive group skating as one of the activeties. I thought that was odd but then i ran into Sam Bennett who was chatting it away with her fellow board member Gary Bertsch. Now whats worse....skateboarders and half pipes who are having fun or politicians that are milking non-profits? I guess that question is for you Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Are you saying that gary bertch sits on the board at properties of Merit?

Anonymous said...

yes. I have been told that he does. Part of CACLV.

Anonymous said...

And you never answered the question.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Umm, It's dem damn skateboarders. They probably worship Satan, too.

I will definitely be looking at whether Bertsch sits on that board, and will try to find out whether he voted for that ridiculous salary.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what his salary is? I doubt that it is close to Sam's.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Can't find it under Guidestar. I'll find out this week, but I recall it is fairly low.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:45,

Can you, for one moment, get off the political thing when posting to an issue oriented post? It's so damn annoying when there's an issue oriented post and the political nonsense is brought up.

Sorry for the gripe.

It's too bad a lot of people in our more rural areas do not understand the skateboarding culture. The great majority of skateboarders enjoy the sport because of the great physicality and eye-to-feet coordination needed when skating. They also like the culture.

And the big names in the skating business, Tony Hawk, Bam Margera and Bucky Lasek (just to name a few), have donated their time and energy to local communities throughout the U.S. with financial support of public skate parks. They understand how positive these parks can be for our youth. I wish more people understood that.

LVDem said...

to the issue at hand, what message do youth get when they see signs around town proclaiming, "no skateboarding or bicycle riding," either on our Main Streets or in our parks. I'm not talking about on front porches or on somebody's steps... I'm talking about sidewalks that are meant to be gathering places for a variety of legal activities.

Is there any question as to why youth don't stick around their towns after they graduate from High School/College? They've been told that they aren't wanted in public places.

Sadly, Bernie, I think you are right. Skateboarders are seen as a subculture that is unwelcome.

Blah Society said...

When I was a teenager, all I did was rollerblade. That was during a time when boarders, bikers and bladers didn't get along. It's nice to see that they can all skate side-by-side now. But what's disapointing is that law enforcement and city officials around the country still don't see it as a sporty form of transportation, or even as a legal recreation.

I use to skate everywhere - to school, work, the store, etc. I think there should be more skate parks if anything. The stereotype only exists because of those who only see it as a form of rebel.

I always asked people when debating the issue of skating "why wouldn't you want your child hanging out with a group that shares a similar interest, and gets great amounts of exercise?" However, the stereotype usually overcomes all.

What ever happened to that cop anyway? I remember seeing that video before - not the whole thing, just the beginning.

And lvdem, I always laugh when I see "no bicycle" signs everywhere. I've been riding my bike a lot lately in attempts to save on gas. And even now, on occasion, someone will come up to me at a shopping center and say "you can't have that bike here" as I'm locking it up, even though I was about to spend money in their store, lol.

Even though I'm 24, I feel like I'm 14 again when people come up to me like that. I'm not going to do any stunts on my mountain bike, and whoever thinks that should seriously hit themself hard. But I'm sure if I was like that old guy with the crate basket on the bike, everything would be just fine.

I wonder if skateboarding would be more accepting if senior citizens rode with crate baskets attached to the board.

RossRN said...


As you know this is a hot topic in Nazareth (and elsewhere I'm sure) because all along the skateboarders and their supporters have argued they have no place to skate so the streets and public property are their only option and because they don't have a place of their own and must be on the streets they are harassed by police.

Now the Borough has invested quite a sum of money (along with surrounding municipalities and some private businesses) to build a skate park within the Borough Park.

Like any group, within it are some bad apples and they give everyone a black eye. My hope at this point is that the ones who are good and more into the skating then the disrespect will go to the Park and use it, while the others won't.

People will then see the ones at the Park are not the problem and those that remain in town are. Further, I hope the ones who have no respect for other individual's and their property get fined until their behavior changes.

There are a few core issues here. First, is government obligated to provide recreation facilities to meet every need within the community? Second, how does one address the problem of individual's who do not respect personal and public property? Third, to what extent should ordinances be re-evaluated as a whole (not one at a time as a problem comes up) to reflect changing norms and standards of society?

I respect that we have had different experiences and my own have not been horribly bad. I did have a reader on my site, however, who had regular run ins with large groups of skateboarders. After telling kids he was calling the police some left and others stayed. Here are some that stayed.

Another reader sent the link to this video.

Putting the athleticism aside (I've never argued it wasn't) note the locations used. One appears to be either a well-equipped private facility that someone either owns or where kids can go and the others are local businesses and school property.

I wouldn't have a problem with skateboarding on the parking lot or sidewalks, but the sliding on rails and grinding the board across things does cause damage. Liability is also an issue.

The Park will have its challenges as well and there needs to be good communication because people from other areas are going to visit and may not know the groundrules. The other problem is going to be skaters who leave the SkatePark and go to the bathhouse, refreshment stand or other areas where other pedestrians and children are. I personally would not like kids on boards weaving around my family at high speed. Maybe they are good, but if they make a mistake my child gets injured. It is one thing to try a trick in a purpose specific area and another to put people at risk of injury. All of this needs to be figured out and understood by the police, council, park staff, and skateboarders.

I guess in short calling the skateboarders in Nazareth victims of harassment at this point is tough for me to comprehend in light of what some of them do and what they are being given.

Anonymous said...


anonymous said...

One thing that sets skaters apart from other athletes (and students in general) is the goth look. I can assure you that if the football team or girls soccer team had the piercings, colored hair, etc, they would be discriminated against too. I'm not saying I am against the look, I just think it hurts their image in the general public's view.

Given the assumption that society views coachable sports in a different light than noncoachable sports, skaters have a lot to overcome in the future. For example, skaters, BMX racers, motorcycle riders and ATVers and not viewed the same as ice skaters, basketball players, wrestlers, etc. It's a shame that most look at noncoachable sports as hobbies.

BTW, anon 10:19, STOP SHOUTING!

Anonymous said...

The skateboarders at HD 07 are a wonderful group of kids who also work to remove grafitti from the city and work on community projects. Most ar emembers of St. Paul's church south side.

As for the bertsch/bennett words -- who cares? she is overpaid and he probably is as well. she gets to hand out awards for properties and he gets one better - he gets to hand out money to fix properties. money is always better than trophies. problem is ----- is the West Ward better today because of that program or because of Weed and Seed. Now there is a program that is doing good things for my neighborhood!

Bernie O'Hare said...


I have to thank you for writing about this on your blog. Although we have completely different views, I'm glad for the opportunity to express those differences.

What you and I view as the "core issues" underneath this are completely different. You question what obligation the borough has to provide recreational facilities for these lowlifes. I'm sorry but that decision has already been made and it was unanimous. That's not a core issue. It's a red herring.

And now you're imagining nonexistent problems, like what happens to poor kids near the refreshment stand. Dude, that area is clearly posted and disallows skateboards and bicycles. Have you been worried about what kids on bikes might do? Of course not. So why then are you worried about kids on skateboards? You're demonizing them. Can't you see that?

The real core issue? How long is this community going to be so intolerant of people just because they are different? And Nazareth has that rep, although I think it's unfair.

It's tough for you to understand that skateboarders are victims of harassment because of your own bias, Ross. You have a hot nut for these folks for some reason and just don't see it. What started me on this topic was your own post, where you judged and condemned that poor kid right off the bat, and then started complaining about skatebaords.

But you don't solve "the problem" by going after some poor kid on a board in an unused basketball court. That is harassment, and the kids told me yesterday they are being harrassed. These are the kids who came to the park that told me that. You attempt to deny that on your blog and here, but every one of the seven or eight boarders I spoke to mention that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:19,

I appreciate your response and the time you invest in coaching baseball. We have some very good ball players in Nazareth, and I'm sure many learn their skills from dedicated persons like you.

Actually, some schools out west are tring to get skateboarders to field teamss that comptete against each other. One teacher called a bunch of the kids that he knew as skateboarders. he got no reply. Then he text-messaged them, and the replies were phenomenol.

It's a changing world.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Nazareth has decided to have a skate park. While I don't skate (total klutz) and my kids don't either, I was recently in Curt's Cyclery and he is stocking skateboards now to accommodate the growing demand. I think that's awesome - a local business I've patronized many times embracing the skaters instead of ignoring them. The kids will skate someplace - so giving them an appropriate place to skate makes total sense. (My own brother used to be one of those "derelict" looking skateboarders and now is 30 yrs old and quite a respectable adult I might add).

I do take issue with cycling, BMX, skating, blading, etc. being called "noncoachable" sports, as if they are somehow inferior. Yes, they may not be on school leagues, but I can assure you that competitive athletes in all of these sports live in this area and are very serious about the sports, just as serious as those who play "ball" sports. My son is leaving Thursday for the USCF Road Cycling National Championships. BMX is now an Olympic sport and one of our local 2007 track cycling national champions (Lanell Rockmore) cross trains in BMX. Rollerbladers have a highly competitive league where they speedskate at the Bob Rodale Fitness Park down in Trexlertown. I have spent lots of $$$$ on coaches in the past few years for cycling.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Congrats to you and your son! If you think of it, keep me posted.

I saw that Curt's cyclery is now selling skateboard gear, and he even advertises that on his webpage.

Look Out Lehigh Valley said...

I like this post. It makes me wonder what the generation gap looks like from the other side. I've grown up in a time where "counter-culture" IS the culture (in the sense that its not really counter anything if all your peers are doing it too). Wearing your hair in a bright-orange mohawk is nothing more than a trend and skating or BMX is a normal recreational activity for teenagers (although I know plenty of single-digit-aged children and plenty of twenty and thirtysomethings who also skate or ride bmx). Its always been an eyebrow-raiser to me that grown-ups have such a bias against this type of thing, or really any expression of "counter culture". I constantly battle my grandfather over his judgments of people with tattoos and piercings (Paul Carpenter's recent columns disparaging tattoos is a perfect example of this mind-boggling judgment of other people's personal choices). I'm sure the tables will be turned at some point, and its posts like this one that make me wonder what my generation will tsk-tsk over...

RossRN said...


Do you realize the extent to which you put words in people's mouths and attribute false information to them?

I never said the skateboarders were bad, I said there were a few bad ones who give them all a bad reputation. I also said I thought we'd see the ones at the Park are not the problem, the ones who chose not to use it and continue to ruin public and private property in town are.

The issue of kids near the refreshment stand was raised by Councilman Herbst and it was a good point. If the policies regarding use and conduct at the park are not reviewed and communicated to all parties, police, council, parents, skaters, etc., then you could have incidents of kids skating up to the refreshment stand and getting fined. If the kids know they can't and it is explained to them in a good way we'll alleviate a potential problem.

Regarding the core issues, I'll only say they were in general not specific to this skate park.

What is the standard for adding recreational facilities?

Why review policies after a problem occurs, why not take a look at all of them every 10 years over a period of four months and get rid of the ones we don't bother to enforce and create ones we need.

How to address people that don't show respect? If it is a kid, maybe he was never taught. Maybe we need an more educated police force if they are acting the way it is being described.

The point is these are issues any community will face. I think we should be more pro-active than reactive. And I think the instance you cite is a good reminder why.

And I guess I'm not sure how I judged and condemned that poor kid when I said I wasn't going to get into he said, she said about what happened.

All-in-all, if you don't like my point of view that is fine and we can agree to disagree, but please at least be honest when referring/ describing the remarks I make.

Bernie O'Hare said...


So far as I know, I have not put "false information" in your mouth, nor have I attributed "false information" to you. I think the reader can judge that for herself. You're just not used to being contradicted.

Here's what you said.

"The other problem is going to be skaters who leave the SkatePark and go to the bathhouse, refreshment stand or other areas where other pedestrians and children are. I personally would not like kids on boards weaving around my family at high speed."

Here's what I said.

you're imagining nonexistent problems, like what happens to poor kids near the refreshment stand. Dude, that area is clearly posted and disallows skateboards and bicycles.

The simple fact is that you look for excuse after excuse to be negative about the skatepark and skateboarders. I believe you're biased on this subject. You won't even list the skatepark opening on your community calendar.

The simple fact that I disgree with you and challenge your poor arguments does not translate into attributing false info to you.

And actually, Ross, you're the dude who did some twisting. You didn't like a recent MC article about skateboarding. I guess it wasn't negative enough. You proceed to take a professional reporter to task for paraphrasing what someone had said, and made false claims about what happened to the young man's skatenoard.

Anonymous said...

Boarders skating up to the refreshment stand, bath house, etc. is not a "non existant problem". I witness it all the time. Bikers too. And also people with dogs. It is a problem that definately exists. If we want to enforce our laws we must enforce all of them or we send the message that if we call "harassment" we can win. We don't want to win at all costs, we want to teach our children to respect the law even if they don't like it. Then, they have the right to lobby to try to change them if they so choose. Personally I'm tired of making excuses for disrespect.

I hope the skate park is a success. With a legal place to skate they won't have to skate where it is illegal. And...we can all watch the authentic athletisism that we hear about.

Think of this scenario:
The football team guaterback and his team mates decide to practice throwing in the street on the way to the football field. They have an inaccurate throw and hit the windshield of a passing car and cause an accident.

The basketball team decides to practice dribbling down the sidewalk on mainstreet and runs into a pedestrian and causes an injury.

the golf team decides to practice in the park and a stray ball hits a kid in the head.

The baseball team decides to practice in the bank parking lot and scares an elderly person coming out to his car and he falls.

These are all examples of bad judgement. Good judgement and respect for both the law and individuals should be taught, ideally, by parents. Obviously they do not always do so. So... don't we then unfortunately have to look to our law enforcers to teach the kids to follow the rules and if they don't are you saying we should look the other way so we don't get blamed for harrassment?


Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:08,

There's a big difference between skateboarding or cycling near the pool or its refreshment stand and skateboarding in an unused basketball court. The area around the pool and refreshment stand is clearly marked and skateboarding is clearly prohibited there. The area around the basketball court is not so marked.

I actually agree with you.

In this case, our law enforcement does not enforce the prohibition against cycling or dogs near the refreshment stand. You note that yourself. But they decide to arrest some poor kid who skateboards in an area that is not marked at all.

What message does that send?

What these cops are actually teaching those skateboarders is that "some animals are more equal than others."

It's clear harassment. And unfortunately, our police department is not in a position to be teaching anyone about anything. It is an out of control department, and I'm disgusted by what I learned today. I'll have more about that tomorrow.

river said...

If the skate board park can keep one kid from getting hit by a car or hurt from sneaking in to one of the old quarries, It is worth every penny of the expense. Speaking of bikes, remember old "hippy" who had a bike with raccoon tails and horns and flags all over it in Naz in the 1970's :)

Blah Society said...

It seems as though this skate park is more of an exuse now. So it's okay that skaters actually skate in the park, but NEVER outside of the park?

Is this park now being used as a tool to seperate the "good" from the "bad", considering those who are bad to be anyone who chooses to skate outside of the park?

I'm sorry, but as I understand skating and biking can't be allowed everywhere, it shouldn't be isolated to just one spot. And of all places, I NEVER understood why it was never allowed on any school grounds. If I were a parent, I'd rather my child hang around a school than most places.

Anonymous said...

You have to look at the evolution of the skate park in Nazareth in context. They are basically throwing Herbst a bone because he is on the wrong side of most issues. He originally got on the board to try and fight the Essroc conveyor behind his house.

The recreation dollars are being spent on something that serves a very limited few. Menawhile, the town doesn't offer something as simple as girls softball. Oh, they did a few years back but they neglected it so badly that all of the girls left for greener pastures (Clippers or LN). They dispanded and gave the equipment to the Clippers which was promptly thrown away because it was all dilapidated.

So instead lets build a bunch of disrespectful punks a skatepark because one of the kids dad is on council. What's next are they going to build a whaling museum because he likes whales?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:43,

That's revisionist history, dude. The simple fact is that council had recreation money that it had to spend or lose. It sat on it for years.

Herbst proposed a skatepark 6 years ago, and fought some heavy resistance. Rev. Matz called it an "attractive nuisnace."

The simple reality is that no one came up with a better idea, so they had to spend it on the skatepark. They pretty much had no choice.

We don't need a dime to start girl's softball here. All we need are interested parents. You can't buy that.

Anonymous said...

You are out of your league here buddy. There were plenty of interested players and parents. Enough to field more than one team at every level.

Give them shoddy facilities and inferior equipment and watch them head for the hills. They lost the softball program because they abused it, nit because of lack of interest. There are a lot more D1 softball players coming out of Nazareth than D1 baseball players -I can tell you that. Better yet, go look it up.

BTW, when does the construction of the whaling museum begin?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:58,

Did you open your mouth and ask Nazareth Borough Council to send its money to some new softball program?

And I caught your personal shot at Herbst the first time. What do you want me to do, admonish you? I don't give a shit what you say. You're entirely free to slam people all you want. Just don't be too surprised when people stop paying attention to you. Don't cry on your little pillow.

Blah Society said...

Anon 2:58

Perhaps I'm out of my league here... but you wrote "there were plenty of interested players and parents," and then wrote "they lost the softball program because they abused it, nit because of lack of interest."

So if the program was abused and there was in fact a lack of interest, why keep it?

If you want softball back in Nazareth, speak up for it Get some signatures and bring some attention to it. Don't just sit on your ass and take it out on another group, i.e. the Skaters, for the abolishment of Nazareth softball. Get up and do something!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:58,

I checked into what you posted here. What I learned is that the rec committee disbanded girls' softball about 5 years ago because of a lack of interest. There were not enough interested players to field a single team, let alone a tream for every level, as you say.

Now if those facts have changed, you have an obligation to speak up for it. There is money available from developers for that kind of program. AJ Cordi is right. You're just sitting on your ass and whining. Do something.

Anonymous said...

Okay now here is the REAL story.

For many years there was a healthy enough softball program to field a team at every level and, in some cases, two at some levels just from the borough plus Tatamy.

Gradually, the girls program started to be treated like second class citizens. Inferior equipment and the worst fields or, in some cases, just a patch of uncut grass. Meanwhile, the same aged boys were playing on regular diamonds with nice, shiny helmets and gear.

Do you ever remember seeing a girls game on that park on Green Street that so many citizens fought so hard to save? Of course not, that field was much too nice for girls. Yitle IX has no place in Nazareth.

Can you imagine six and seven year old girls hitting the ball off the tee and it only goes a few yards because it dies in the six inch grass? It was embarrassing to host out of town teams on these makeshift fields of this condition. People wenty back to Wind Gap and Pen Argyl muttering under their breath.

The following year some girls re-upped with the boro team, but many crossed the border to play for the Clippers. Our recreation leaders had the audacity to insist that those girls and their registration fees come back to the boro program. The clippers complied and those girls played another kisreable season for the boro.

Finally, the trend continued the following year with a mass exodus to other programs. This time, with scant players left, the boro yielded and sent their remaining players, fees, and equipment over to the Clippers. The sorry equipment was immediately deemed dangerous and discarded.

As far as getting involved - you are kidding right? There were openings on the Nazareth recreation board, but we didn't have a Nazareth pedigree so we were quickly dismissed as candidates. They would rather have a vacancy than appoint an outsider. Remember these are not elected positions.

That is the REAL story of what happened to Nazareth softball.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:48,

What you're saying is so ridiculous it must be true. It sounds just like Nazareth.

Now I'm no softball expert and know nothing about skateboards. The reason I got so worked up about this, to be honest, is that I am pro kid.

If you honestly think the interest exists for a softball program in Nazareth, I know money is available. Drop me a line. BOHare5948@aol.com. We can talk about it. If you are telling me you were denied permission to participate on a vacant rec board seat, you can watch my temperature go up.

But don't you start trashing the other stuff. If enough kids are interested, there should be room for everyone.

I'm involved in youth sports, but in Allentown, wehre no one knows me. There it is very hard to get parents interested and kids end up getting sent home. It's a shame. But even Allentown, with all its problems, has softball for girls.

If there's an interest, I'll bet you we can get a program going.

Blah Society said...

Anon 9:48,

So basically it was a case of neither the city or the parents wanting to contribute. The city allowed it and the parents made little effort to improve conditions. Even when I played little league almost 20 years ago, I remember that I had to have my own equipment. I do remember playing sometimes on poor conditions (tall grass, mud, etc.) and not thinking anything of it - was just happy to be playing a game. I was a kid, and politics of everything then was at a minimum, unlike today (obviously).

But anyway, I would take Bernie up on his offer if girls softball is something you'd like to see again. And though I don't live in Nazareth, I'd be willing to help. (I'm working in a sports store as I resume my studies.)

river said...

The Kraemer Textiles field was always in great condition. Why couldn't you play there years ago.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's called "the meadow." And there are two fields there. And I think they are real softball fields (no grass in the infield).

Anonymous said...

I am 13... And a skateboarder. And countless times i've been chased... mostly i talk my way out of it.. but where i skate theres no signs that prohibit it right? wrong... it seems to me like cops just hate kids who skate... whens its rele a harmless sport...

Anonymous said...

To all you naysayer’s; I welcome - even embrace - a group of kids packing boards and getting exercise over a gang of thugs walking the street packing heat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dan, Spoken like a good Irishman!

Anonymous said...

Hey man,

My names Chris and I come out of Easton, PA. I'm 16 years old and have been skating for 8 years pretty enjoyably and for the pure enjoyment (unlike alot of other skaters my age admitably). Everything your saying here is so true. It is so awsome to see some older guys talking this way. Not simply frowning upon skateboarders, but looking at everything we are/can be.

I had the opportunity to visit the skate park yesterday and I must say I quite enjoyed myself (mostly). While from the looks of things the place will probably get shut down sooner or later (5 mins after getting there some guy called me a "fucking ass", he didn't even know me. He also called my girlfriends brother {a 10 year old} the same thing. Not to mention all the cig. buds and one kid seeming like he was drunk the whole time. Besides those things I still liked the park, and will be going back sometime in the morning to skate before everyone gets up.

I will tell you that after 8 years of skating I have been in just about every position you have stated in your blog. I've encountered lots of cops, and yes when I see them I get out of where I am. It is horrible when some of those cops come out as if I am the scum of the Earth, especially when I'm skating somewhere that doesn't say "No skateboarding." Its hard to deal with when the communities build basketball courts and soccer fields like they're playing with legos, but when it comes to skateboarders it is almost constant harrassment if you don't skate on your own property.

But, for what it's worth; I still enjoy skating. I take some risks with it sure. I try to avoid illegal spots as best as possible (its hard when you don't even know whats illegal or not), plus it seems that some cops aren't into warning people and just handing out tickets.

And, you are right. There are some skateboarders who are completely disrespectful and idiots, but the thing to look at is all the good kids just doing it for the sake of doing it. Not to break the law, but to have fun (or whatever). While I'm writing this it is important that people can see skateboarders aren't all "I hate cops, I hate government, I hate my community." The truth is, for me at least, is that "I hate cops who treat me like crap, I also hate the government when they don't give me any opportunities to do what I enjoy doing, and I also quite like my community area for the most part; accept for when they are idiots. See, I hate the idiocy. I do not just generalize. Now I hope the cops and politicians will grow up and stop generalizing me in a group that I try to avoid as much as I can. I am not that skater who's out for drugs, booze, and some criminal offenses on my record. I'm the one trying to ride a friggen skateboard and enjoy myself and learn new things to grow in my sport.

Anyways, I could go on and on, but I'm not gonna right now.

I was just wondering if you have any contact info for Councillman Herbst by the way? I tried finding an email or snail mail address to write him a letter, but couldn't find anything. If you have anything or want to say anything back to me you can hit me up at the email: skaterwithfaith@yahoo.com

Woah, this was freaking long. Thanks alot!

Bernie O'Hare said...


I really appreciated your post, and am very sorry to hear that you and a 10-year old boy were called a "fuckin' ass" as soon as you arrived. I'll print out your comment and will mail it to Councilman Herbst. I'm sure it will brighten his day to know his work is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

why do you have to talk bad about skateboarding at least we exercise and do something with our life instead of sit in a desk and type on a computer and watchin internet porn or gaining weight from all the cheese doodles your stuffin your face with because you realized how nerdy and geeky you are being on the computer all your life and if you wanna talk bad about something talk about all the nerds who sit and play counter strike and halo all day and get fat or talk about people with no lives you could start by talking about yourself with the both of those topics

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear bernie,

my son is a skateboarder. we are catholics. we go to church every sunday. he skateboards every day and does not worship Satan. he and his buddies skateboard in the neighborhood with ramps and rails. they are even protesting getting a skatepark. just because people skateboard doesnt mean theyre bad. some are bad, but saying that is stereotyping. most skateboarders will leave if asked to before they get kicked out. skateboarders are people too.

Anonymous said...

ive never seen a basketball court or a baseball field get shut down due to bad behavior! EVER! the majority of people can throw a baseball or shoot a basketball! try to learn how to ollie, the base of almost all the tricks in skating . gonna take you a little longer.. give credit where credits due! stop making a big deal out of nothing. ive been getting slack for twenty years now of skating . its not a fad , its a lifestyle!did anyone ever get a fine for dribbling a basketball of the court, i doubt that!

Anonymous said...

oh my godd.
ive never seen something as stupid as this.
yea were skaters. yea we ride skateboards. But how come since i ride a skateboard and wear tight pants and hats, im a punk! talk to any parent of any of my friends, and theyll tell you how polite i am. Not to mention am i an all honors classes at a catholic high school. The thing i hate most in the world (OUT OF EVERYTHING FROM TERRORISM TO ABORTION) is how people judge other people by what they wear. Ive never been in trouble above one detention, while meanwhile, there are just as many basketball players that do drugs and all make all kinds of trouble, and then cops like that judge us by what we wear and what sport we play. they woudnt do that to a kid skateboarding wearing a polo and khaki pants