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City: SCV installs Wi-Fi at skate park, catering to the Facebook and YouTube generation of skaters

Posted: May 24, 2010 10:56 p.m.
Updated: May 25, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Mark Aguirre, 13, left, of Canyon Country, videotapes his friend Luke Hackney, 15, of Canyon Country, at the Santa Clarita Skatepark on Monday The city has installed Wi-Fi at the park, which allows kids to upload pictures and videos onto the Intenet without leaving the park.

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Young skaters and bikers crowded the skate park at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on a recent afternoon, not seeming to notice the 90-degree heat and taking only occasional breaks for water.

Those who were not skating were glued to their cell phones, texting away. And, evidenced by the hundreds of YouTube clips and Facebook photos, they spend plenty of time documenting their stunts.

The city installed Wi-Fi at the 40,000 square-foot park, giving skaters and their fans a chance to upload the videos quick without ever leaving the park.

“Skate culture is into social media,” said Toi Chisom, the city’s recreation superintendent. “Much of the way they converse is via the Internet.”

With the new wireless connection available, she said she expects to see even more videos and photos pop up online.

It was an easy move for the city to make. The only cost was a wireless router for less than $100, and it was installed by city employees.

Though wireless became available about two weeks ago, many skaters at the park were still unaware of the service.

Nathan Turley, 14, barely looked up from texting when asked about the Wi-Fi to say, “I had no idea.”

Nor did Scott Whitehead, a 20-year-old who works at a skate shop in the Antelope Valley. He said, however, he thought the Wi-Fi seemed like a pretty good idea.  

His twin brother, Brandon Whitehead, added he thought it could be cool. He said he uses his cell phone for everything — music, Facebook, e-mail.

“I can upload pictures right here right now,” he said.

Internet access is not only good for the young skaters keeping up with Facebook and YouTube.

Gary Moore, 45, takes his sons Caden, 8, and Kyle, 5, to the park once or twice a week after school. Moore, who was unaware of the new Wi-Fi, said he may use the new technology to surf the Web on his phone or laptop while his sons skate.

The wireless service isn’t solely geared toward Web-obsessed teens and their parents, said Kevin Tonoian, Santa Clarita’s technology services manager. It could also come in handy to guests of the park’s frequent events.

Next week, filming will take place at the park in the morning and early afternoon. And on June 5, the park will host the Volcom “Wild in the Park” skate competition.

The Santa Clarita Skatepark is the fifth stop on the tour, and all qualifiers from this stop will have the opportunity to travel to Peoria, Arizona to compete for a $25,000 cash prize.

The skate park is open to the public 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays. On Sundays, it is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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