Southern California has long been considered a hot spot for skaters, bike riders and other action sports-enthusiasts, and while it may not be considered one of the premier skate spots in the area, local residents still believe the Santa Clarita Valley has some unique skate spots of its own.
The Santa Clarita Valley Skatepark has been a refuge for teenagers on sunny summer days for years, and many residents around town can still recall the memories they had made there to this very day.
And even though the Castaic Skate Park, which was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors back in September 2016, opened only recently in February 2019, it’s been received warmly by the community.
Mike Riederer, also known as “Hydro Mike” in the SCV skate community, knows the curves and ramps of Santa Clarita Skate Park about as well as anyone.
Riederer has been going to the Santa Clarita Skatepark four to five times a week nearly 20 years since its opening.
In his many years at the park, Riederer has come to know many of the riders. In fact, he is now able to share stories of the adults to their children there.
Known as “Hydro Mike” in the community, Riederer was a part of a group of residents who offered input on the design of the SCV Skatepark in use today, but he said Monday he still remembers the skatepark located near the basketball gym that opened in 1999.
“It was small in comparison to the current park but, at its time, it served many young and older skaters alike. I loved skating that park and was there almost every day. To this day, 10 years later, I still have dreams of different skate lines from that park,” Riederer said.
But Riederer isn’t the only resident who’s worked on bringing skating options to the Santa Clarita Valley.
A father and son’s journey
It would take a dozen years of writing letters, lobbying officials and waiting before Lance Vaughn and his son Garrett were finally able to see the fruits of their labor during the recent opening of the recreational skate park in the Castaic area.
Vaughn previously said the process for building the new skating area began over a decade ago when his then-9-year-old son asked why there was no place in his Castaic neighborhood for him and his friends to skate.
After seeing a number of Santa Clarita families mimic their travels from Fillmore to Venice to Santa Monica in search of a skatepark, the Vaughn family decided to look into the possibility of getting a park built for the local Castaic community.
“So I told him let’s get a flyer and let’s hang it up,” Vaughn said during the opening of the park.
With the assistance of local skaters, a temporary facility would be built shortly after, but, according to Lance, it cost $15,000 and it didn’t satiate the dream he and his son shared for a quality skatepark that was suitable for skaters of a high caliber.
“I remember when I was there (at the temporary skatepark) getting an accommodation, a kid that was about 11 years old rode up to me on his scooter and asked me if I was (responsible) for this and why I did it. And, I responded, ‘I did it for my son and for all of you,’” Vaughn said in February.
After years of working with various county supervisors, design companies, Lance was able to see his 12 years of hard work pay off during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Castaic skate complex.
The park is pretty amazing, Vaughn said, adding, he’s glad he was able to do something for the kids of the community.
“It’s a dream come true,” he added.
At its opening this past spring, professional skaters also shared their enthusiasm for the park.
Manny Santiago was one of the professional skaters on-hand for the opening of the $1.3 million skatepark, “and I told them I love it,” he said at the opening, while providing the park’s designer with an “honest review” of the park.
“I’ve been skating for 12 years, and this skate park is a great one,” added Angel Garcia, a skater from Venezuela who also attended the park’s opening. “It’s got great transitions, good rails — I mean it’s got a little bit of everything.”
It’s not always common to see professional skaters at local parks, but the same can not be said when it comes to the kids of the community.
It’s been five months since the opening of the park in Castaic, and skaters are out enjoying their first summer on the stairs, ledges and grind rails it has to offer. Of course, riders can also be spotted out on Centre Pointe Parkway where local residents are invited to enjoy the ramps from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day.
Like any activity, it’s not always easy to jump into the sport and be an expert from the beginning, but Riederer said interested community members should give it a try.
“The best way to get started is to support one of the local skate shops in our valley and start off with the right equipment. The shops employees can assist in picking the right size board etc. They also carry a variety of safety equipment,” Riederer said, adding that he highly recommends helmets for new skaters. “It’s important to get one that fits well and is comfortable.”
Hydro Mike also invited new skaters to seek out professional skateboard lessons with himself or other mentors.