Cory Romeiser balances of the rail at the new Victory Park at Deer Run Park on Oct. 18, 2019. Staff photo by Sara Clifford
Cory Romeiser balances of the rail at the new Victory Park at Deer Run Park on Oct. 18, 2019. Staff photo by Sara Clifford
On Oct. 18, local skateboarders celebrated the official opening of Brown County’s first skate park.

The park, designed for skateboarders but also open to other “extreme sports,” was built at the county-owned Deer Run Park, alongside the main park road between the Community Garden and the Brown County Parks and Recreation office.

It was named Victory Park in memory of the late Gregg Watson, who used to run the Victory Family Fun Center in downtown Nashville. He and his wife, Lauri, opened the fun center to give local kids a safe place to hang out. It closed in the early 2000s after his sudden death.

At Victory Park, skateboarders can navigate a series of obstacles, including rails, a bank, raised pads and a large, stationary ball, and a giant bowl that resembles an empty swimming pool.

At the ribbon-cutting on Oct. 18, dozens of kids from elementary age through high school — and a few riders in their 20s — sailed around it with smiles on their faces.

The skate park came together through the efforts of many volunteers, including a group of teens called Kids on Wheels. They started meeting to brainstorm and raise money for the park in early 2017. High-schooler Isaiah Smith took on the skate park as his senior project. After-school teen program BETA also lobbied for funding and support.

The project won a $50,000 matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority if it could raise $50,000 from the community — and it did, 15 days ahead of the deadline. Other groups also kicked in significant financial support, including the Brown County Community Foundation, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Tony Hawk Foundation, SCI REMC, Fabulous 50 Women’s Giving Circle and Smithville.

“This is something that we’ve prayed for for quite a long time, and we’re all super honored that this is a thing,” said Cory Romeiser, a skateboarder who ministers to young people.

He offered a blessing over the park before the ribbon was cut, asking that “people will stay safe and be encouraged and run away from things that will harm them,” and that the park will be “a place of healing and restoration, a place of joy, a place of victory.”

The park was built by Hunger Skateparks of Bloomington, which builds skate parks all over the world, and many local volunteers.

In addition to the skating surface, the park includes elements for non-skaters to enjoy as well: a gaga pit, a circular porch swing and hammock swing area, picnic tables, a mural and a tire swing.

Brown County Parks and Recreation will maintain the park, but visitors are asked to help clean up after themselves, said Colleen Smith, Isaiah’s mom and one of the park effort organizers. Brooms, trash cans and recycling containers will be provided for visitors to use.

Former BETA board President Clara Stanley got a little choked up about seeing it all come together. “It just makes me so happy when I see kids enjoying it,” she said.

“This park is the prettiest park I think I have ever seen,” said Isaiah Smith. “I can’t thank everyone enough. … It was so hard to imagine ever standing here and looking at it. … I just hope that you all take care of it, and I hope you all have fun.

“I hope it changes some of the views of skateboarders, because they’re really good kids.”
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