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Hundreds in L.A. celebrate Go Skateboarding Day

Skateboarders at the Wild in the Streets event followed a five-mile route, starting at Hollenbeck Park and ending at Lafayette Park just west of downtown Los Angeles.

June 22, 2011|By Ricardo Lopez and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • A skateboarder warms up before the start of the Wild in the Streets skateboard ride through Los Angeles.
A skateboarder warms up before the start of the Wild in the Streets skateboard… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Abbiee Herrera and Isaura Pizano stood out in the sea of boys.

Dressed in shorts and flannel shirts, the pair took in the boisterous scene at Hollenbeck Park inBoyle Heights: A legion of skateboarders — mainly grungy teenage boys on summer break — were revving to take to the streets Tuesday afternoon in celebration of Go Skateboarding Day.

"Boys are always surprised when they see us," said Herrera, 18, who likes to skate with Isaura, 17, on the smooth pavements of USC's campus.

Photos: Wild in the Streets skateboard ride in L.A.

With their boards under their arms, the two made their way around the skate park to watch stunts and tricks by other skaters as the occasional waft of cigarette and marijuana smoke drifted by.

Hundreds swarmed the thoroughfares shortly after 1 p.m. for Wild in the Streets, an annual event that moved to Los Angeles for the first time this year. They followed a five-mile route, starting at Hollenbeck Park and ending at Lafayette Park just west of downtown Los Angeles.

The anticipation to get going was palpable, resulting in at least one false start when a small group took off before the official run. Dozens followed, momentarily halting traffic on South St. Louis Street. They were eventually made to turn back.

An organizer's reminder to stay on the sidewalks was met with shouts from a few: "It's not wild in the sidewalks! Let's go in the streets!"

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said about 300 people participated Tuesday. An event volunteer put the count at closer to 1,000.

Police monitored the event on bikes and motorcycles. Smith said a few people were cited for traffic violations as they moved on streets, but overall the group was "well-behaved."

The event benefited Boards for Bros, a nonprofit that collects and refurbishes skateboards to donate to kids who cannot afford them. The group donated about 130 skateboards this week to the Salesian Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles, volunteer Mark Waters said.

The annual event has taken place in New York, Vancouver and Madrid.

Waters, who has skated since 1971, said that Southern California is the epicenter of skating and has a well-established scene where many professional skateboarders live.

For that reason, he wasn't expecting as high a turnout as in New York, where he said skateboarding isn't as visible. That event drew 8,000 people.

Photos: Wild in the Streets skateboard ride in L.A.

ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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