By KATHY STEVENS The York Dispatch
Sunday truly was bittersweet for Eric Menzer.
Sweet because a two-year-long project was complete. Bitter because his son was not among hundreds of skateboarders who broke in the Reid Menzer Memorial SkatePark.
Before the ribbon was cut and the top-of-the-line concrete outdoor park was officially opened, Eric Menzer said he and his wife, Kendell, and daughter Frances would rather not be there, meaning he wished Reid was there and that the park was not a memorial.
He asked the crowd — the kids, teens, adults — to share in a moment of silence in recognition of Reid, who died Jan. 22, 2006. The 14-year-old eighth-grader at York Catholic High School was riding a street luge, which is similar to a skateboard but longer, when he was struck by a car at the intersection of Arlington Street and Merion Road.
His friends, fellow skaters and family decided to build a skate park in his honor. He’d often told his father that York should have a skate park, a place where likeminded people could learn, practice and excel at their sport. The city donated property; numerous others donated time, services and money to build the park.
There are no fees, no fences and no run-ins with police or property owners as long as all respect the park.
Thanks to all: Eric Menzer stood in front of the crowd thanking donors, workers, volunteers and vendors who’d helped the idea become reality. Skaters, designers, builders, concrete men and community activists pitched in to build the concrete park, which thus far has cost about $400,000.
Attendees applauded Menzer; some clapped, others hit skateboards on concrete. The park, after all, is theirs. They are responsible for themselves, for garbage and for each other, the old looking after the young.
They are tasked with keeping noise to a low roar as not to disturb neighbors. They also must respect posted park hours and rules that include no smoking, alcoholic beverages, profanity or fighting.
Josh Munson, 16, and John Evin Groom, 15, both of Spring Garden Township, filmed and photographed the opening day ceremony to post online. Munson said he’s kept tabs on the project since the beginning. Neither of the teens knew Reid, but they said they believe his fellow skateboarders will step up and do their part in care of the park.
They listened to Eric Menzer, to city officials and builders who spoke during the ceremony. Josh and John said the park is a big deal, that there’s nothing like it within miles. They said skaters would come from Baltimore, Harrisburg and Lancaster.
Passion for sport: “What he’s doing benefits so many, he’s helped so many,” Josh said about Eric Menzer. “People should remember that (skateboarding) is more than a piece of wood with wheels. We have a passion for this, just like anyone who loves any other sport.”
He added that he respects Menzer for the effort and also for the pain that comes on days like Sunday when his son wasn’t there to enjoy the work.
“If it were me, I don’t know,” Josh said. “He’s just a really strong man.”
After the ceremony, after the ribbon was cut and skaters rolled and walked into the park, Menzer talked briefly. He said this is the only kind of memorial to his son he could’ve been involved in.
“I had no interest in (erecting) a sign,” Menzer said. “This is safe, and it’s legal. Kids don’t have to go onto the streets or on private property or in parking lots.”