The Dew Tour kicks off the summer season in Ocean City, Maryland this July and not far from the beachfront venue lays one of the oldest operating municipal skatepark in the country. We caught up with Dave Messick, the longtime manager of the Ocean Bowl Skate Park, to find out about the park’s 35-year history and to hear about the renovations in the works. Dew Tour fans looking for a bit of history while in town can head over to the park and expect to see brand new Skatelite on the vert ramp, a complete resurface of the concrete pool and more.
What got you involved with skateboarding?
I'm from Cambridge, MD and I’ve been skating since I was 8 years old. I would always go down to the Ocean City Bowl and skate.
How did your job managing the park come about?
I started working there in the early 90s. A guy named Mark Eamon ran the park and he passed the torch to me. He got me working there part time as a second job, because I had other jobs in Ocean City. But it just evolved into me working there, being the manager and I haven't stopped.
You created a documentary about the park. Can you give us the motivation behind that?
We were in our third phase of the skatepark. We had our first phase in the 70s with asphalt, and then the second phase was when they tore that down and had the steel vert ramp and the big scene in Ocean City. Then the third phase was when they tore everything down and rebuilt the park completely. That's when I started to film the documentary. I was able to take a lot of the footage I had from years past and combine that with the footage of building the new park. And in doing that I decided it was time to put something out there to let everyone know about our park.
It was a pretty big thing. We were one of the first parks in all this concrete skate park building. All these guys came together to build the park in ’98 (Red from Burnside, Omer, Tim Payne), and it just made me go, ‘I better make something about this.’
Ocean City has really tried to stay up on it. When we have run into problems with the park and brought it to their attention, they always try to help keep it going. It started in 1975, it opened officially in June 1976 and we've never closed our doors since. Even during the period when skateboarding fell off and wasn't a popular thing at all, they kept employees, they kept the place open and tried to provide a place for skateboarders.
What type of contests do you hold at the park?
In the past we have had some really big events, the NSA (National Skateboard Association) has done events here, and it all depends on the events in skateboarding. We keep having local events to keep the kids stoked on skateboarding. We do three to six contests a year, we do three in the summer, and we actually did one this winter. Mainly just local or regional types of things, but its just a way to stoke out the kids. Kids love to be a part of it and we just want to keep it all going.
What type of upgrades are you doing during this renovation?
We are working on our vert ramp and pool. The pool is going to be redone and resurfaced. It’s pretty much a whole new shell that is being poured. We've never had the proper amount of vert on the ramp, so we are making that proper and putting on a fresh layer of Skatelite. We are really excited about it.
What change are you most excited about?
Personally I'm really excited about the vert ramp. I feel there are a lot of really good vert skaters around the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, but with a new ramp we will get a new talent of skateboarders that will come and use our facility. And once they get here for the vert ramp, they definitely will use our pool. Our previous ramp just didn't have a real base of vert. You need at least 15 inches of vert or your wheels won't land at the right degree, and we probably only had about six inches of vert previously.
Who was involved with the new park design?
Omer, he was part of the original park, but had worked under a different group. He really has been integral part in us fixing up our park. The Dew Tour also has really helped us out a lot.
Is the park currently open?
We are running a camp right now and teaching 8 - 12 year olds to skateboard as we speak.
What do you think about the Dew Tour coming to Ocean City?
The Dew Tour coming here has helped us out a lot. It’s made everyone think about the park and skateboarding in Ocean City. The excitement is incredible. I feel like its going to be the biggest event in Ocean City. Its going to be ridiculous.
Don't miss any of the action as the Dew Tour kicks off its 7th season on the beaches of Ocean City, July 21 – 24, 2011. Information on tickets and event schedules will be available shortly.