The Etnies Skatepark in Lake Forest, CA, broke ground in more ways than one when it opened 20 years ago. It was the first skatepark in the U.S. created through a public/private partnership. At the time, it was a leap of faith on the part of city officials as no one knew what impact such a facility might have on the surrounding community.
Fast forward 20 years and 1.2 million skater visits and counting later and Etnies CEOPierre Andre Senizergues says the public/private partnership has been a win-win for all parties. “For us, it’s always about providing a space where skateboarding can thrive within a city,” he says, noting the park showcases the ethos of the brand as well as hosts contests, concerts, nonprofit fundraisers, lessons, and more. “But what has exceeded our expectations is that this skatepark has set up a model for other cities around the world to follow. It changed the way skateparks were regarded by city governments and demonstrated a path forward on how to do it successfully.”
The Etnies Skatepark at 62,000 square feet is the largest staffed public park in North America. Owned and operated by the City of Lake Forest, it serves as a destination for local skaters and pros from around the world, including visits by legends Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Rob Dyrdek. The park has also been a breeding ground for Lake Forest locals Aidan Campbell, Daniel Vargas, and Dylan Witkin, who’ve honed their craft on its bowls, ramps, and rails, and turned professional.
To commemorate the park’s anniversary, Etnies and city officials recently brought the community together for a day of performances by top pro skateboarders followed by autograph sessions. Pros Fabiana Delfino, Nassim Lachhab, Ryan Sheckler, Julian Lewis, Andy Anderson, Amelia Brodka and Sean Sheffey attended.
“Nothing makes me prouder than to see the skatepark packed with kids; it shows that an entire community has rallied around it and enjoys it,” Senizergues says. “Memories have been created, and Etnies is at the center of each of those experiences. It’s because we created something that is authentic and a perfect representation of who we are.”