This downtown park is now a hub for Toronto's roller skating community
At almost any given time, skaters can be spotted at College Park learning and practicing tricks, in a dancing circle or just outright getting groovy.
The park is equipped with a smooth, long paved cement rink that is ideal for skating and located in the heart of the city surrounded by tall skyscrapers creating a cool contrast.
College Park became the first and biggest social event in the city in regards to roller skating that really inspired all other events in the city.
College Park naturally became the go-to skating spot this summer for a few reasons; all outdoor rinks have been closed due to the pandemic, the park offers smooth pavement that is hard to come by elsewhere in the city and word of mouth.
The Roller Skate Toronto Facebook page is where the city's skaters have been going to discover new practicing spots, learn about classes and techniques and getting to know others in the community.
"I started to invite other skaters in the community and the park really just became our practice spot. The good energy and music came naturally," said Toronto skater, Keegan Shim.
The park almost always has skaters gliding on its rink, however, it is in full swing on Saturdays when a larger crowd shows up and a variety of music is played on the speakers. Thanks to social media, videos of skaters have been shared on various platforms, and needless to say, encouraged more people to come out.
"A lot of people have been coming because they see the energy that has grown organically over the last 3 months due to so many skaters in the community."
Shim told blogTO that, "I like to tell people at College Park that 'I would love for this space to be like the Venice Beach of Toronto', I would love to have a space like that here."
Venice Beach in California has a long history of roller skating that welcomes all in a safe and fun recreation space and hosts free DJ performances and skate lessons.
The creator of the Roller Skate Toronto Facebook page and active skater, Renelle Collins explains that "It's really so much fun! It is a family environment, people of all ages and the LGBTQ2+ community come out and it is a really welcoming space."
People of all skill levels are welcomed and encouraged to come to the park.
"Some people are absolute beginners to the point where they just bought their first pair of skates, they walk over to College Park and take them out of the box and they learn to skate right there. There are also people who have been skating for years," said Shim.
The community is very open to sharing knowledge and teaching others what they have learned.
"Sometimes someone sees a move that I or someone else with experience does and they ask if we can show them how it's done. The next thing I realize is that a group of 5 or 10 people are behind us also trying to learn and it organically becomes this unofficial class," explains Shim.
The beauty at College Park is that everyone is just trying to share and continue the cycle of inspiration. People learn moves and tricks, they practice and master it and then a few months later they are teaching and sharing the technique with someone else.
Michael Kassapian, who is also a member of the Roller Skate Toronto Facebook group told blogTO that a skating charity benefit is currently in the works for late August and every dollar raised will go to an Indigenous youth charity.
"We have secured DJ floz who will be volunteering his time and a great sound system on loan from Jay Bradley. There will also be multiple experienced skating groups including roller derby, bowl skaters, dance crew, pride groups, skating games and activities for children."
Since Toronto will be well into the final stages of reopening in August, there has never been a better time to get down and funky for a good cause.
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