Go Wild! Skateboarders pack the streets of Austin

Skateboarders gathered at House Park before taking to the streets of Austin on Friday night. (Eric Janzen/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of skateboarders gathered at the Austin Skate Park before making their way up 12th Street towards downtown to celebrate International Skateboard Day.

The mass of riders were taking part in Wild in the Streets, a 3-mile group skate through the streets of Austin. The event drew about 500 boarders.

“The turnout is pretty awesome,” said Jeff Henderson, marketing manager with Emerica. “There’s people that came in from all around Texas.”

The event was held to raise awareness for the positive impact skateboarding, and its community, have on today’s youth.

“It’s something that connects people, and makes people happy,” said Jojo Williamson, an Austin skateboarder who was injured in a hit and run accident in March. His girlfriend, Kaitlin Palmer, died in the crash. Part of the proceeds raised from Friday’s event went to benefit Williamson.

“It’s really crazy and kind of unbelievable,” Williamson said of having his name attached to the event. “I looked up to Emerica so much growing up and still do…the team coming out here to help support me and the local area is amazing, I can’t believe it.”

Skateboarding also provided Williamson an escape from reality, helping him clear his head following the loss of his girlfriend.

“It just keeps your mind on positive things,” he said. “If you’re having a bad day, you just go out and skate and turn your day around.

“It’s like a paradise under my feet.”

Emerica and Boards for Bros also teamed up to donate skateboards to members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Boards for Bros collects and refurbishes skateboards, then distributes them back into the community to children who cannot afford them.

The Wild in the Streets event had previously been held in Detroit, New York, Vancouver, Montreal, Madrid, London and Los Angeles. This was the first time Austin had hosted the event.

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