New skate park brings new opportunities for Greenfield Salvation Army

By Hugo Bravo

On Wednesday, June 21st, the longest day of the year and National Go Skateboarding Day, Greenfield, MA officially opened its new skate park. Live music, local vendors, and community organizations were present at the park’s debut, giving away food, helmets, and lessons on skate safety. The Salvation Army Greenfield Corps brought their canteen to provide electrolyte freezer pops for the skaters to stay hydrated in the 90-degree heat.

The skate park had been requested by residents since 2010, when the city’s former skate park was eliminated due to area redeveloping.

“In that time, local skaters had moved on to the park in the next town over. There was some concern as to whether this park would even get use now. But it’s been open for a little over a month, and there are 40 to 50 people skating here every day. They come in groups of 10 or 12 at a time,” says Lieutenant Paul Leslie, pastor at the Salvation Army Greenfield Corps Community Center, which is located across the street from the skate park.

“Every time that the city posted photos showing the progress of the park’s construction, you could see the Salvation Army corps in the background, so we anticipated that being so close would make it ideal for us,” says Lt. Leslie.

Both The Salvation Army and the skate park are near downtown Greenfield, an area not known for having activities for children and their families. With the new park, however, The Salvation Army now has a location nearby to promote and host programs, outdoor gatherings, and block parties.

“Skate parks like this brings in a multigenerational crowd. Of course, kids and teens use it, but parents also come with their younger children. There’s even a pavilion where grandparents sit in the shade and watch their grandkids skate,” says Lt. Leslie. Though he admits he can’t skateboard himself, he’s happy that The Salvation Army can still be present and engage the community through its new attraction.

“National Go Skateboarding Day had about 150 people here, and more events like it are planned for the summer. There’s even talk about shoveling out snow from the skate park in the winter to keep it open. This may become a year-round activity for Greenfield, and it’s going to bring about great opportunities for ministry,” says Lt. Leslie.