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Officials cut ribbon on Valparaiso's Flounder & Friends Skatepark

Park designer Dug Ketterman cuts the ribbon of Valparaiso's Flounder & Friends Skatepark
Tyler Zuccarelli
Lakeshore Public Media
Park designer Dug Ketterman cuts the ribbon of Valparaiso's Flounder & Friends Skatepark

The Region's newest skate park is open. Officials cut the ribbon Thursday on Valparaiso's Flounder & Friends Skatepark.

Valpo Parks Director Kevin Nuppnau said it's special for a number of reasons, including community support and consideration for all user groups, as well as its unique features. "I mean, seriously, a bowl in the shape of a fish; a musical manual pad that, when skated correctly, unlocks the lyrics to a song; street features that replicate places that people used to skate in Valpo: things such as stairs, curbs, rails and so many others," Nuppnau said.

City Administrator Bill Oeding said the park fills a need in the community, noting that the sport has come a long way since he and his friends built their first homemade skateboard out of his sister's roller skates in the 1960s. "Not only will this park serve the local community, but it'll also serve a regional draw. The design and features elevate this space. Like the city of Valparaiso, there's nothing else like Flounder & Friends Skatepark for miles and miles around," Oeding said.

The 16,000-square-foot skate park pays tribute to the city's original one — built decades ago by local teenagers in memory of Ray “Flounder” Wampler, who had died in a crash. One of those teenagers was Dug Ketterman, who has since made a career designing skate parks around the world and designed the new Flounder & Friends, located in Fairgrounds Park.

"I don't think you can beat this location," Ketterman said. "First off, the lights are amazing, the view, everyone walking the track around this place. It's going to be experienced by so many different people. We're not hiding it away in a forest somewhere. We're bringing it right out into the open and celebrating this for the entire community."

The new skate park comes after years of planning and fundraising. Future phases are also planned.