Skate park party celebrates 20 years of kids having fun

Zooming, swooping, soaring youth on wheels have been at their crazy tricks for two decades now on East Ridge.

And Ridgefield’s Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park will celebrate 20 years of skating, scooting, biking and cross-age camaraderie Saturday, July 28, from noon to 6 p.m., with a rain date of Sunday, July 29.

The 20-year celebration will feature free skating for all, a skate competition with prizes from Utopia Skate Shop of Norwalk, demonstrations, prizes, raffles, music from a DJ, and food trucks.

Skate Park Director Linda Caponetti, who helped get the skate park started when her own kids were young and looking for places to do their sport, is proud of the inclusive ethos that has long flourished at the park.

“Skateboarding, scooter riding, in-line skating or BMX, these sports come with a code of friendship and support toward other riders, especially those new to the park or new to their sport. Old helping young, skilled helping beginner. Always banging their boards and cheering each other on,” she said.

“Parents of new skaters are usually wary at first, but then report being won over by the genuine welcoming their child receives at the park, and to their new sport,” Caponetti said.

The creation of a public skatepark, one of the first in the area, was advanced back in the late 1990s by a group of skaters and their parents, and embraced by then First Selectman Sue Manning as a solution to the problem of kids skateboarding on the streets and sidewalks.

One of the leaders of the youth movement for the park was Graham Dickinson, who was tragically hit by car a car and killed on Route 7 shortly before the park opened. The park he’d lobbied to have created was then named in his memory. His parents are expected to return to Ridgefield and attend the July 28 celebration.

“Stemming from a community-wide grassroots effort in the late nineties, the park continues a safe and friendly experience for skaters of all ages and abilities — inclusion, encouragement and social and skating support,” said Caponetti. “Full of nice kids who cheer each other on and gladly share their techniques and tricks with others — camaraderie.”

Caponetti admits that it’s been quite a ride for her, as well as the kids, going from a “skate mom” to director of town park that is staffed seven days a week in season, and conducts a series of camps and instructional workshops.

“Having had the privilege of co-founding, growing, and running this amazing place for 20 years — it’s something I never expected to do and something I’ll never forget,” Caponetti said.

“All the kids, the staff, the families, and the fun leave an indelible mark on my heart.

“As we welcome co-founder Suzanne Dickinson and her family back to Ridgefield to celebrate the park named in memory of their precious Graham, we can say that he has never left us,” Caponetti said. “He has always been here guiding us and protecting this wonderful park.”

Graham Dickinson SPIRIT Skate Park is off Prospect Street, by the tennis courts near Yanity Gym and the Venus Building.

The skate park is open from noon to dusk, seven days a week, all summer.

In spring and fall, when schools are open, park hours are 3 p.m. to dusk on weekdays, and from noon to dusk on weekends and holidays.

Drop-in rates at the park are, on weekdays, $7 for Ridgefield residents and $12 for non-residents, and on weekends or holidays, $10 for Ridgefielders and for $15 non-residents.

A variety of memberships and seasonal passes are available, from a 10-visit pass that’s $60 for residents and $102 for non-residents to a full annual membership at $222 for residents and $302 for non-residents.

The 20-year celebration, however, is free to all.

For more information, call the skate park shed at 203-431-2342 or the office at 203-431-2368, or visit