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ST THOMAS — Building a healthy community through skateboarding is what SkateThomas is all about! What started approximately 12 years ago with a small group of older skateboarders on the island has grown into a burgeoning community of individuals, young and old, of all backgrounds. After years of having private backyard ramps and makeshift skate spaces, the group decided to try to find a more public place to skate that would allow more people to join their growing community.

With the initial approval of the Virgin Islands Police Department substation officers, SkateThomas moved their talents to the basketball courts in Anna’s Retreat. They built wooden ramps and obstacles that challenged skaters and helped many to get comfortable with skating in a designated space. Eventually, a halfpipe — a large skateboarding ramp with two or more curved walls — was donated to the site, further increasing the authenticity of the skate park that was created. Since the move, skateboarding has increased in popularity throughout the community. Everyone is having a blast learning the ins and outs of a non-traditional sport.

With the Anna’s Retreat location in place, the group was able to facilitate skate lessons for children and adults; plus, new groups began to form as a result, like the Rock City Rollers. A group of ladies who love being on wheels, they offer free skateboarding lessons for children and their parents and provide skateboards and protective gear as well. Every Tuesday evening, SkateThomas hosts “Bananas at Anna’s,” a group skate session and barbecue/pizza night that has grown in popularity since its inception. Open to all ages and skill levels, beginners are encouraged to come with helmets and protective gear to “shred” with other skaters and become part of their community. Currently, a major fundraising campaign is underway, led by the 501c3 nonprofit organization Virgin Islands Surfing Federation, to build St. Thomas Skate and Bike Park. This dedicated space would be a permanent, concrete skate and bike park on the island that would be available to participants of wheeled recreation. With the support of VI Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation, the facility will be a healthy, productive outlet for Virgin Islands youth and adults alike. The new park would feature 12,000 square feet of transition, street, and flow elements, and will be appropriate for all skill levels and riding equipment. In its final fundraising stages, the park is expected to break ground in March 2024 and will be complete by June 2024.

To learn more about SkateThomas and their fundraiser for the future St. Thomas Skate and Bike Park, you can follow them on Facebook at SkateThomas or on Instagram at @skatethomasvi.

Written by Anquanette Gaspard