Social media has changed everything in our society and with Generation Alpha on the cusp of being teenagers, sports activities and retail will continue to experience radical shifts.
One of those shifts is fueled by the continued exponential growth of social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube. These platforms have skyrocketed the popularity and accessibility of activities and sports like skateboarding and BMX biking. Not only is it fun to do, but it’s also fun to record and watch.
Generation Z (mid to late 90s – early 2010s) and Generation Alpha (2010-2025), born the same year as the iPad, are growing up not just with technology and social media, but as co-creators in their own social experiences online and in person.
Skateboarding was once considered a counterculture movement, but social media created access to content and instruction launching the sport into a two-billion-dollar industry. Even the International Olympic Committee recognized the growth and popularity of the sport, approving it in 2016 as a sport first introduced into the Summer Olympics in 2020.
One of the largest benefits of skateboarding is the low front-end investment in equipment and coaching. With some youth sports costing thousands of dollars and dominating the family schedule, skateboarding simply requires a board (a decent one can be purchased for around $100) and individual practice.
Local shops like Waterboyz do offer individual coaching and summer camps, which are far less expensive than many other activities. But one of the most compelling aspects of skateboarding for many kids is the sense of support and authenticity generated by the skate community. Most are more than willing to help others learn, by offering tips and patient support for one another.
With the growth in these sports comes the desire for regionalized competitions, like the Tampa Pro in Tampa, FL; Central Mass Skate Festival in Harvard, MA; or the Jackalope Skate Festival in Virginia Beach.
Much like other festivals, these events bring top names in the sport, along with sponsorships and tourism exposure for the local community.
Pensacolians Jon Shell and Andy Prince recently traveled to the Tampa Pro competition and knew immediately that an event like this was the perfect match for the newly completed Blake Doyle Community Skatepark, which opened for public use on May 2, 2023.
The Tampa Pro is one of the longest-running (30 years) and most respected professional skateboard competitions bringing in skaters from all over the country and the world. Olympic Gold Medalist Yuto Horigome of Japan won the 2023 competition, held annually in early March.
With the popularity of the Tampa Pro, many know that one of the first skateparks in Florida was the Bro Bowl in Tampa, built in 1979, and added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2013. But Pensacola was also home to one of the first skate parks in Florida called “The Paved Wave” which opened in 1976.
With surfing and skateboarding woven into the fabric of Pensacola’s history, it makes sense that Pensacola’s new skatepark combined with a premier skate event would garner a place of importance in the skate world.
With a vision for an annual skateboard and music festival and competition, an initial event called “Opening Day,” is scheduled for June 10 at the Blake Doyle skatepark in Pensacola. The event will feature skate demonstrations and competitions. Live music will include performances by The Gills, Deathcruiser, Ego Death, and The Glorious Flaws. Daniel Andreu and Patrick Quintanilla will be on site with live art demonstrations. A kids clinic will be held for kids ages 10 and under with an open jam for children 10 and up.
There will also be merchandise booths, sponsor giveaways, and food trucks.
Headlining this event are New Balance’s Numeric team members and pro skaters Andrew Reynolds and Jamie Foy.
Reynolds and Foy are both Floridians from Lakeland and Deerfield Beach, respectively. Reynolds, nicknamed The Boss, turned pro in 1995 when he was recruited by Tony Hawk for his Birdhouse brand skate team. He was named 1998 Skater of the Year by Thrasher Magazine. By 2000, Reynolds left Birdhouse to create his own brand, Baker, and is considered by many to be one of the top 10 skaters of all time.
Foy, the Thrasher 2017 Skater of the Year, placed first in the X-Games Best Trick in Street Skate for both 2021 and 2022. When Foy isn’t skating, he’s a Florida boy at heart and loves to fish for Largemouth or Peacock bass.
This all-day event will have cash prizes for tricks judged by the Numeric Team for the: best 3 Trick Line, best kickflip/frontside flip, an Old Man Bowl Jam, and more.
As a city of festivals and home to the Navy’s Blue Angels and the American Magic sailing team, Pensacola has the vision to launch this event as the next big thing.
Will the skate world’s next professional skater be from Pensacola?
With a history that goes back to the sixties, and a nearly twenty-year age gap between these professionals, skateboarding and its culture spans the generations, but the movement of Alpha toward it shows the future of skateboarding (and Pensacola) is bright.
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