Club ramps up plan for 75th year celebrations

By Roger Moroney

Like the pursuit of skating itself, Napier's Sk8 Zone on Marine Parade is something of a work in progress.

"Yeah' there's a bit going on," manager Pat McIvor said as he drilled yet another hole - with one eye on the ramp he was working on and the other on the calendar.

"We're having a major upgrade which we're aiming to have completed by September 30," he said, explaining that on that day the club would be celebrating 75 years of "flying around on wheels".

However, back in 1937, when The Napier Skating Club was formed, the skates were effectively lace-up boots with four small wheels attached.

Mr McIvor said part of the original club's artistic designs showed skaters with wings on their feet, as if flying.

"And they're still flying around today - although now they really are flying," he said.

Part of the revamp had been the re-positioning of the big vertical half-pipe ramp so that it could be better supervised and to create more room for another smaller series of ramps.

While today's skaters were mainly of the scooter and board variety, Mr McIvor said he had noticed a resurgence of popularity with in-line rollerblades.

"People are hiring them to use on the walkways because they get a good work-out with them."

But scootering remained "huge". He had also been seeing fathers - who had gone through the 90s as teenagers and done the "skateboard and rollerblades thing" - returning with their children and introducing them to fun on wheels, "usually on little scooters".

He was expecting the 30th to be a big day and was still putting plans together for it.

A reflection of how skating and scootering had taken off in recent years could be seen in the Sk8 Zone club's growing membership: "We've just hit 1500 members."

That number was just from within the Bay area.

"Last holidays we had a bit of a count-up and there were 200 people here - and 50 of them were from outside Hawke's Bay. We've got kids getting their parents to bring them here from Wellington for the day because there's nothing like this anywhere else."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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