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Inaugural Weightless Skate Fiesta launches at downtown park

A skateboarder performs at the Weightless Skate Fiesta Saturday at the downtown Wichita skate park. (June 25, 2011)
A skateboarder performs at the Weightless Skate Fiesta Saturday at the downtown Wichita skate park. (June 25, 2011) The Wichita Eagle

Dressed in the requisite skater uniform — skate shop T-shirt and black jeans — Josh O'Quinn smiled and clutched his board.

Why does the 12-year-old like skating?

"It's just fun to do," Josh explained.

Duh, he probably thought to himself.

Josh and about 50 to 75 other skaters braved summer heat Saturday for the first Weightless Skate Fiesta at the downtown Wichita skate park under Kellogg between St. Francis and Emporia.

Hundreds of people watched as skaters performed tricks with names it would take a special dictionary to understand. Skaters speak a shorthand that is as much a part of their culture as grip tape and wax.

Josh spends all his free time skating, his mother, Shelly O'Quinn, said.

She's fine with that.

"I'm just trying to keep him off the couch," she said.

Josh's grandparents Keith and Cathy Rariden cheered him on Saturday, along with other of his family members.

Several sets of grandparents were scattered about the stark concrete park, surrounded by skaters decades younger.

"He walks around with his skateboard under his arm all the time," Cathy Rariden said of her grandson.

Josh started skating because a friend skated. Now, skate stuff is all he wants for birthdays and at Christmas, his mom said.

Like all skaters, he sometimes gets hurt, Keith Rariden said, "but he's pretty tough. He gets over it."

The competition was open to beginning, semi-pro and pro skaters, said organizer Jon Dakin of Weightless. He said the oldest skater was about 25.

Some of the skaters were so young their boards were almost as tall as they were.

Alec Nunn, 14, skated Saturday, sponsored by Endless Ride, a Wichita skate shop.

Alec was competing on his birthday, his mother, Kim Nunn, said.

He's been skating since he was about 4, she said.

"He'd like to be pro," Nunn said.

The Newton resident said she thinks skaters sometimes get a bad rap. She likes that her son skates.

"It's better than sitting around watching TV and playing video games," she said.

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