Montclair, NJ – Hundreds of kids of all ages, skating together Sunday, at Montclair’s permanent skate park was a dream come true for Montclair — and a dream almost 20 years or more in the making.

There was joyous energy and a whole lot of skating happening Sunday at the brand new skatepark featuring seven unique, skateable sculptures designed by 2021 USA Olympic skateboarder and seven-time X Games Medalist Alexis Sablone.

Sablone, who spoke before an official ribbon cutting for the park named “Candy Courts,” thanked Paul King from Skate Essex for cold calling her out of the blue and asking her to design something for Montclair.

“It’s a dream to to get to work on something like this, and then to see this place packed with people and all these skaters enjoying it and making it their own. I know the community here has been working a long time to see something like this happen,” said Sablone, an MIT and Barnard graduate, who designed the sculptures to be functional pieces of art for skaters of various abilities.

Alexis Sablone speaks to the crowd as Montclair High School alum Antonello Terrano holds the proclamation presented by Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill for Candy Courts, Montclair’s new skatepark with sculptures designed by Sablone.

A petition, started by then-Montclair High School junior Antonello Teranna in 2019, served as a major catalyst for the movement. Terrano, who has since graduated, returned to Montclair for the grand opening and shared how much it meant to him to see the park become a reality.

“Skating changes lives, ” said David Derrick, member of the Board of Trustees of Skate Essex.

“From council members to the Skate Club, to Alexis, to everybody involved with Skate Essex, these skate parks don’t happen easily. To get one as unique and accessible and special as this, is truly a testament of the power of community and everybody who put their heart and soul into this,” said Benjamin Anderson Bashein, executive director of the Skatepark Project.

A young, stylish skater gets help on her board at Candy Courts Sunday.

History in the Making: Montclair Skatepark

Montclair been talking about bringing a skate park to the town at least as far back as 2005, when Stephen Plofker and Bobbi Brown, who sponsored a skateboarding exhibition at First Night Montclair 2005, were in support of one at Erie Park. Some residents came out against the idea and the project stalled.

Then in 2007, there was renewed interest in a skate park as issues skateboarders face when there isn’t a safe place to skate or an area where skateboarding is allowed made news.

In 2010 Montclair parents and skateboarders rallied for a skatepark and teens “rolled” into a Montclair town council meeting, skateboards in hand, to plead their case. The issue ended up on the agenda before the Montclair Council and a resolution was passed in support of a skate park but again, nothing happened.

Members of MHS Skate Club organized a learn to skate event that underscored the need for a safe place for skateboarders to skate.

Fast forward to 2019. Following a successful open skate session, organized by Montclair High School’s Skateboard Club and enjoyed by over 150 active participants, a whole new generation of skateboarders asked for and received support for a skate park from the current Montclair town council at its November meeting.

By July 2020, a temporary skatepark was created in the space formerly occupied by tennis courts at Rand Park. And in January 2022, the park took another big step forward, when Councilor Schlager and Councilor Peter Yacobellis put up a resolution to take the next steps to make the skatepark permanent. In March 2022, Skate Essex announced that Montclair’s skatepark received a $25,000 award from the Skatepark Project.

Those monies, combined with funds raised by Skate Essex, funded the seven skateable sculptures designed by Sablone.

“The joy on the faces of the kids is what makes all of this worth it,” said Councilor Yacobellis. “The fact that we could create something where kids are playing outside and making new friends and being active — more of all of that! And now I hope they believe a little more in the power of democracy and that they can make dreams happen for themselves.”