Church is the last place many skaters would think of spending their Saturday afternoon. But at Alhambra’s Bethany Church, ramps and rails provide obstacles in the parking lot, and skaters catch air.
“We have a sign that says ‘No Skateboarding,’ but we don’t care,” Youth Pastor Nelson Feliciano said. “We even got insurance.”
Bethany, one of the only private places in Alhambra that allows skateboarders to use their grounds daily, opened its parking lot to skaters in the early 2000s. The logic was that the best way to keep youth off the streets and out of trouble was to create a space that would attract them.
In October, the church's Xtreme Youth Program (BCxy) hosted its third annual skateboarding competition, “A-Town Skate Jam." “The goal of the Skate Jam is to outreach to the community and its skaters and allow them to have a good, safe time,” BCxy Director Ruben Marquina said, adding that it’s important to love neighbors and community because “it shows unity.”
Local skaters freestyled and practiced their tricks between competitions while live bands played for an audience of about 50. The top three winners received trophies from BCxy and skateboard decks, wheels, and bearings from Bordz Skate Shop.
Orion Alvarado, 17, the first-place winner, said he entered the competition for fun and was not expecting to win. “I think it’s a really cool thing that we have a place to stay [and skate] without getting kicked out,” Alvarado said.
Bethany Church is located at 21 N. Olive Ave, Alhambra.