Zumiez Block Party Brings Good Vibes to Oakland

Bay Area and Greater Skate Communities Unite!

A crowd full of groms gather under a Converse canopy and draw unique designs on fresh kicks, soon be given away to some lucky raffle prize winners. A row of blank white tote bags sit on a table next to markers for people to color on in the shade of an Element Skateboards tent. 

Over a hundred skaters, friends and neighbors gathered at Bella Vista Skate Park in Oakland, Sunday July 10 to kick off the Zumiez Block Party event series. Zumiez, Deluxe, DGK, and Converse came through and members of Skate Like a Girl was in the mix, offering free lessons for kids and hype for the competitors in the “non-test” — a non-skill focused contest.

 

Kim Woozy, director of marketing and partnerships at Skate Like a Girl, says that events like the Zumiez Block Party help break away from negative stereotypes that still exist within skateboarding. According to her, skateboarding has historically been full of gatekeepers who exclude others from the community for not being gnarly enough or pushing themselves toward the brink. Woozy and other leaders of the non-trad skateboarding community are building a new and welcoming path for those who want to join in.

If you're stepping on a board, then you're a skateboarder. Even if you have never jumped down a set of stairs, which is honestly a very hard thing to do, you can still have fun and enjoy it.

-Kim Woozy
Skate like a Girl's Ashley Masters teaches some fundamentals to the next generation.

Zumiez has been supporting Skate Like a Girl for about five years, first collaborating at the nonprofit’s yearly Get on Board fundraiser and Wheels of Fortune event, the world’s largest gathering of non-traditional skaters. 


Co-director of Skate Like a Girl Ashley Masters and other volunteers taught local youth tips and tricks for getting  comfortable on skateboards for the first portion of the event. The 22-year-old organization provided protective gear for the as they learned how to tic-tak and drop in. 

 

Zumiez marketing manager Sara Lentz, who oversees the company’s skateboard strategy, and was stoked on how the inaugural Block Party turned out. Lentz mentioned how this skate contest was a safe space that welcomed anyone and everyone to join in on the fun and encouraged non-test participants to better themselves while being a part of a greater community. 

Seeing people getting excited for others and encouraging them in such a way was just so cool.

Sara Lentz
Krux superstar Marbie Miller and her signature nose manual.
Unidentified ripper tail slides the box.

When I go to the skatepark, it's rare to see girl skaters, so coming out to events like this makes me super excited and opens me up to a ton of new opportunities to make cool friends.

Nathasya Hardijanto

Lentz started working at Zumiez as a seasonal employee 12 years ago when she heard how workers can get discounted season passes for snowboarding. After a couple years at one of the stores, she hopped over to the marketing team and has been working to give back to the skateboarding and snowboarding communities ever since. 

 

Nathasya Hardijanto, student at UC Santa Cruz and employee at NC Boardshop in Los Gatos, showed up to check it out and was stoked to meet some new friends including Krux and There pro Marbie Miller, who  made an appearance. Hardijanto said being surrounded by femme-presenting skaters doesn’t happen to often. 

World's coolest dude, Boo Johnson showed up and brought a friend.
Points for style!!

With almost 40 people signed up to participate in the non-test, famous microphone duo “MC Masters and DJ Woozy” announced everyone’s names and interesting facts before the start of the participants’ runs. Attendees and volunteers, including DGK team manager and event coordinator Don Cooley, appreciated the low obstacles at the DIY park, making it more welcoming and feasible for beginner and intermediate shredders to skate on. 

 

“Coach Cooley,” brought excited smiles to the faces of local youth by handing out complete skateboards at the DGK booth. He founded non-profit Pushin’ Forward this year in hopes of bringing skateboarding to more children by giving out free equipment and lessons to youth across the country. 

I think it’s human nature for people to want to belong to something. Kids need that — skateboarding gives them a sense of belonging.

Coach Cooley

The social justice advocate has also worked with the Zumiez Best Foot Forward events, a 15-year-old series that aims to bring exposure to amateur skaters and set a path for them to reach pro level. Through these efforts, Cooley hopes to shed light on the community-building aspect that skateboarding offers. 

 

DON’T MISS the final event of the four-part block party series in Miami on Aug. 27!

photos courtesy of Zumiez