On September 8th, 2019, the Marginal Way Skatepark 15 year celebration was epic with skateboarding, friends, bbq, music and lights at night. What could be better at a DIY?
DIY concrete in Seattle was born again when locals Tim Demmon, Shawn Bishop and Dan Barnett took it into their own hands to scope out a location and start a project in 2004.
Marginal Way’s birth, like many great things, started out of strife and necessity. The Ballard Bowl in Seattle was getting torn down and the Seattle Center Skatepark was slated for demolition. Basically, these were the only two free public worthy areas to skateboard in Seattle.
What better place than a bridge located in the industrial Sodo district of Seattle where homeless slept in cars, illicit activity took place and the underside of a bridge was scorched from a previous meth lab vehicle fire?
MW was born on the cross streets of Marginal Way and Hanford, a perfect place, located in the heart of the city just slightly south of downtown.
With train tracks on one side, and across the street the gated ports of Seattle and a lone commercial business on the opposite side, it was a desolate area and excellent destination for a DIY.
The 15 year anniversary boasted a completely new centerpiece feature in the south section. The new area changed from a large bank that separated areas to being a destroyed Berlin Wall, which now allowed passage into many areas not possible previously. It also added an epic roller type hip into the parks design.
The concrete finish along with transitions and designs have aged like fine wine at Marginal Way and, in 2019, the Seattle DIY is better than ever.
MW has the most epic diverse lighting system of any DIY that I’ve ever seen. Laid out on the underside of the bridge with conduit, all the halogen lights were replaced with LED and are wired to run off of a single generator onsite that can be fired up anytime in the shed with a little bit of gasoline.
From the simple bank to wall, curb and small parking lot features, MW has grown into an amazing park with four connected stand alone sections, a pool, two storage sheds, one event shed, transitional catwalks, sonic tube supported areas (to make decks on taller transitions) and pavers next to the tracks. A current bbq build out is in progress and the large platform deck by the pool has enough room for a band to perform during events.
The skatepark boasts of, most likely, one of the smallest fully functional and made to skateboard mosaic tile cradles in existence. With the use of a 4-wheel plank one can flow seamlessly in-between areas at a consistent rate of high velocity.
Many have supported and visited over the years, and part of the beauty is seeing so many people putting in years of work and the torch being passed consistently to newly inspired generations of passionate committed dedicated builders, caretakers and patrons.
The diversity of transitions, the features and the variety of the original layout works and is challenging by any standard. A skateboard only park, built, paid for and maintained by Seattle skateboarders.
Early in the 15 year birthday skate jam, one of the groms took a hard hit and an ambulance was required. After the ordeal, we were informed that he was okay and the skating raged on!
In conclusion, I’d like to give a shout out to Tim Demmon, still holding down the skatepark all these years, and to all the builders since day one.
A special shout out to Brice Niebuhr who took on an amazing leadership building position the past years creating the pool masterpiece and many other additions to the park.
Props to the skaterock bands that performed on the anniversary, including locals Zorched Realm, Stabber, Good Touch, Seawlfz, and Banjo Kyle V, and DJ Metal Mark.
Portlanders TLM and Schroeder Bomb also came through to help make the party rage.
Thanks to every band over the years that has played at MW or played at fundraising shows for the park.
Thanks to everyone that helped emcee the raffles, worked libations stations and helped with food, preparations and park cleaning. Respect to you!
The night before the event, I painted a 15 year MW anniversary piece. Red flames were going around the lower section of artwork and a thunderstorm of biblical proportions turned the sky dark, lightning streaked across the sky branching out multiple times and booming rolling thunder cracked with the strength of earthquakes moving mountains.
It was in these moments that some said Monk was speaking to us, letting us know he was looking down from the cosmos and sending claps of approval for the past 15 years and the establishment of a dedicated Seattle DIY.
I had to stop painting and waited for a break in the torrential downpour to run to my truck to grab some blues and went to work on the top balancing out the lower red with equal amounts of blue, adding lighting bolts all around that sparked fire in the minds of Seattle’s core Skate Army soldiers.
A silhouette figure emerged on the side riding a skateboard holding up a shovel and guitar with lightning bolt connections towards the sky instigating infinite inspiration through the energy created in the vortex under the 99 bridge.
Much love to everyone that has helped out over the years and continues to help out organizing and building, and at events and thanks to the people that pitch in to make it a better place.
Marginal Way Skatepark has had generations of rippers over the last 15 years and will continue its metamorphosis over the next 15.
Cheers to all the years! Keep the Fire burning in your hearts and on your board!
– Words by Jay Meer
– Photos by Olga Aguilar