MARQUETTE - Even though it's already been enjoyed by the community for a few months, the Marquette Skate Plaza is now officially open.
City officials and community members involved with the plaza celebrated the popular attraction with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, which included a visit from professional skateboarders Steve Nesser and Tabari Cook.
"It's amazing the amount of effort that went into this," said Nheena Weyer Ittner, who spearheaded the effort to bring the skate plaza to Marquette.
Marquette Mayor Johnny DePetro is joined by skateboarders and supporters of the Marquette Skate Plaza as he cuts the ribbon Friday marking the official opening of the facility located at the corner of Fair Avenue and Pine Street in Mazrquette. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
Nelson Torres of Marquette tries a trick move during the grand opening ceremonies of the skate plaza . (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
She said kids came to her eight years ago because they had nowhere to skateboard, at least legally.
"It all started because kids are getting ticketed everywhere," Ittner said.
Wanting to give local kids a place to skateboard, Ittner started a brainstorming effort that included a design process with youngsters.
One of those youngsters, now grown, was Lukas Hyde, who's still an active skateboarder.
"I love it," Hyde said. "I'll never stop."
Cash donations for the skate plaza have totaled about $200,500, and in-kind services have totaled more than $47,000.
Ittner said she hopes more money can be raised so amenities such as benches and picnic tables can be installed.
Matt Jones, co-owner of Casualties sport shop with his brother Andy, helped coordinate the effort to bring pros Nesser and Cook to town.
"This is great," Jones said of the new plaza. "It's long overdue."
Mayor Johnny DePetro said during the ceremony the community members involved with bringing the plaza to reality wanted something for "21st century" kids to enjoy."
"Their hard work will be enjoyed for many years to come," DePetro said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org