RED LODGE -- Who knew a super-sized hole in the ground would provide so much thrill. Just less than a year ago, skate park enthusiasts in Red Lodge were hyped about the possibility of a new state-of-the-art facility to call their own. Now, it's a done deal.
"For starters, we can't believe we pulled it off in the amount of time (we did)," Red Lodge Skate Board member Ryan Rummel told MTN Sports.
Less than a year ago Hellroaring Skatepark was nearly two decades old and on its last wheel, so to speak.
"We've got a lot of wood features and anyone that knows Red Lodge climate knows it's not conducive to the weather," Rummel told MTN Sports last August. "We can put a lot of money into wood features and by next spring, you can't really tell."
Next spring is now, and the difference is noticeable. The newly constructed hot spot is all concrete, trimmed with artificial grass thanks to a bevy of private donations totaling around $200,000.
Aaron Kyro helped spark the project. He grew up just a few blocks from the park and is now a professional skater in San Francisco. Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament also kicked in. He was born in Montana and still calls the Missoula area home. Red Lodge Skate Board member Kevin Bonk said Ament even made his way over last October to test it out and see what he was chipping in for.
"He said he'd donate as long as we put that giant swimming pool keyhole bowl right there," Bonk said, gesturing toward the park's centerpiece surrounded by all sorts of ramps and rails as kids on skateboards and scooters rolled by in different directions.
"This is not an anomaly; this is every single day when school gets out," Rummel said of the gathering.
The new track also offers a chance to learn new tricks.
"I'm trying to do a tail whip, but I don't have any grip tape," said 8-year-old Kiser.
"It rides way smoother than the last one that we had," 8-year-old Reece said, standing on her scooter in between a pair of friends while assessing the new digs.
Ten-year-old Logan agreed.
"It's all concrete and the other one was just wood, and it would get ripped," he said.
Kids aren't the only ones tapping into their inner childhood.
"Parents are here all the time, they're buying skateboards, getting back on skateboards," Rummel said.
Maybe the best part: fun in the new city park isn't limited to summertime.
"Kids have been in it all winter," Bonk said of the bowl. "They slide in it. They come home from school, I see kids with sleds in here, and if there's not too much snow, they shovel it out and skate."