NEW ORLEANS WILL Ride On at Parisite, The City’s First Public Skatepark

Late last month, the city opened Parisite Skatepark, showcasing an improbable relationship between neighborhood skaters and City Hall. The results of this unlikely collaboration transformed a largely unused space under the interstate into a recreational space for people – skaters or not! – to enjoy and a safe space for youth to participate in physical activity.

parisite skatepark

Skaters enjoy Parisite Skatepark in Gentilly. (Photo courtesy Parisite on Facebook)

Using Kickstarter to spur their entrepreneurial efforts, the park’s creators successfully opened Parisite on Feb. 28. New Orleans was the largest U.S. city without a public skatepark, but thanks to Parisite and City Hall, we’re now a city with one of the newest parks around. Here’s the story:

Humble Beginnings

Parisite, named for its proximity to Paris Avenue, began as a makeshift skatepark in Gentilly. Neighborhood skaters used the vacant space under the I-610 overpass as an informal spot to meet and skate and, over time, its popularity grew. The skaters soon saw the potential their park had and formed a Louisiana nonprofit corporation with the goal of making Parisite an official, recognized park.

A Welcome Project

According to a recent online article, the creators of Parisite said that the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) welcomed the project – as did Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “If we have an enemy in City Hall, we haven’t met them,” says Skylar Fein, one of the leaders of the Parisite project, in the article. With the backing of local government, the possibility of an official public skatepark became a reality.

Mission: Skatepark

The park’s creators took to Kickstarter where they presented a campaign that not only met but also exceeded its goal. Participants in the Kickstarter donated money in exchange for real goods like skateboards and caps; in turn, they were funding a park designed and built by skateboarders to meet the needs of the local skate community.

On Feb. 28, the park celebrated its opening with a “Reuben-cutting ceremony” rather than a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. Over sandwiches and skateboards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke to community members about the collaboration between local skaters and City Hall.

Landrieu noted that the park offered not only the chance for young men, women, boys, and girls to learn how to skate, but also a chance to bring communities together. “That’s what creates social cohesion,” said Landrieu in the article, “which equals resilience.”

Check out Parisite Skatepark at the corner of Paris Avenue and Pleasure Street in Gentilly, next to the St. Bernard Center at 1500 Lafreniere St.