For many skateboarders, there is no ground more hallowed than LOVE Park (a/k/a JFK Plaza, where skating is officially banned). If you visit it now, it's a Christmas Village, but for a few weekends earlier this month, after the fountain was drained for winter, it was the skateboard nirvana of the late 1990s and early 2000s all over again.
Millennials who'd been driven to the park by their parents back then returned to take on the pavers and ledges, just as they did before boarders built their own park under I-95 and before the $4.5 million Franklin's Paine Skate Park was created near the Art Museum.
Facing the $16.5 million renovation that will close the park until 2017, boarders flocked to "jump the LOVE Gap," perhaps for the last time. That's what Tore Bevino, 26, was doing. Along with videographer Brian Penne, he was recording his tricks, "before it's gone for good." His mom used to wait in the car after driving him down from Hatboro.
Robert Werner, 24, drove over from Manchester, N.J., with his friend Cory Johnston manning the camera. In 1996, local skateboarding legend Kerry Getz had been the first to kick-flip the Gap — taking off from the top by the sculpture, leaving his board in mid-air while flipping it, then landing four levels down, back on his board, wheels still rolling, in the dry bed of the fountain. Now Werner wanted to be the first to "late frontside shove it."
He had stopped by LOVE Park earlier in the day, but it was too crowded. After warming up at Franklin's Paine, he returned. Werner nailed it on only his second attempt, and fellow boarders erupted in cheers. Nobody know him, personally, but they all recognized his feat.
Jumping the LOVE Gap was immortalized in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. When the city hosted the X Games, Getz (who owns Nocturnal Skateshop on South Street) won the gold medal in skateboarding street and the silver in street best trick.
After the Christmas Village closes shop in January, the window for skating will reopen briefly — provided the ice and snow stay away — and before the new park renovations begin in the spring, LOVE Park will see boarders from everywhere stealing a final chance to test their mettle at this world monument to skateboarding culture.