The 1st annual block party at the Jackson Street Skatepark will be held the weekend of July 16-17th 2011 from 2-8PM.

Live Mural paintings, Music, Skateboard Competitions, Basketball Scrimmages. Skateboard Sponsorships by Zumiez and Underwood. Food and Merchant vendors and much much more.


Engine 7 at the Skatepark

Big THANK YOU to Engine 7’s Lt Jim Walsh, Ch. Darell Fratamico, &   Firefighter Sean Eckenrode for cleaning the wall to prep it for our mural.


Skaters: Local park an asset

By Christopher J. Hughes
Go Lackawanna Editor SCRANTON –     Block party participants and sponsors include, from left, front, Zumiez Assistant Manager Nic Barbose and artist Ted Michalowski. Back, West Scranton Neighborhood Watch President Karin Foster, Scranton Police Chief Dan Duffy, and musician Jason Smeltzer.Jason Riedmiller photos / For Go Lackawanna

Skaters recently grinding rails at the park at the corner of Jackson Street and North Bromley Avenue in West Side said they’re happy to see an event like the Drawcore mural block party set for July 16 and 17.

To them, it’s a show of support for a facility that allows them to practice the sport without the fear of receiving a citation.

“It’s pretty great. It’s keeping everybody out of the downtown where they wreck everything. It’s better to put money into a skate park than to put money into businesses downtown (for repairs),” 15-year-old skateboarder Darin Ward, of West Scranton, said.

“It’s a nice little set-up for the kids in the neighborhood to keep them away from the streets,” Breno Rodrigues, 23, of North Scranton, added. He said there are few facilities like the West Scranton park.

“I think it will be nice for everybody to enjoy the weather, come out, and get the kids involved. I wish there were more places like this in South Side or even West Side.”

It’s a need that Shawn Gill has seen for years.

Gill, 32, is currently the manager of Underwood Skatepark, 432 N. Main St., Taylor. The park has been open for four years, and Gill previously operated a similar park in the city called Sessions.

“I think there’s a big need in our area. That’s why I did it,” Gill said of opening Underwood, which will judge and sponsor skate contests this weekend along with Zumiez.

“A lot of the kids that come down to the (Taylor) park come up here also,” Gill said. “These guys asked me to help out, and I’m just doing the same thing they’re doing by trying to keep them out of trouble.”

Darin Ward, of West Scranton, said the Jackson Street facility gives him the chance to skate without getting in trouble with local police.  Jason Riedmiller photos / For Go Lackawanna

Leaders collaborate for July 16-17 event

By Christopher J. Hughes
Go Lackawanna Editor

SCRANTON – When Ted Michalowski saw graffiti on a large white wall inside the Jackson Street skate park in West Scranton earlier this year, he made a phone call to his former computer lab partner from West Scranton Intermediate School.

Lucky for the artist, that lab partner now serves as Scranton’s chief of police.

“He actually approached me when the graffiti was put on this wall up here,” Chief Dan Duffy. “I was furious when I saw the graffiti on the wall because we had just put our juvenile unit in here.”

But Michalowski presented a unique solution to the problem outside the recently established West Side Precinct. He wanted to take his experience as an improvisational artist and mural painter to transform the site into what he feels could become a new landmark in West Side.

About a dozen artists will join the man known for his Drawing Social events at the AFA Gallery in Scranton on July 16 and 17, from 2 to 8 p.m. each day, for a Drawcore skate park mural block party that he’s dubbed “Lords of Drawtown” as a play on the 2005 skateboarding film “Lords of Dogtown.”

The event will include live music from Tribal Waves; projects from Tyler Dempsey, Bobby Davis and Chris Connors; and Red Green Blue on Saturday, and music from Smeltzer & Smyth, Adam Catscratch and the Biotech Band, Chet Williams and Friends, and a live radio broadcast by 97.9X on Sunday. The event will also include skate competitions sponsored by Zumiez and Underwood Skatepark along with basketball scrimmages each day.

Michalowski, 37, of West Scranton, has previously traveled to Poland several times to create murals to cover graffiti, but the one created this coming weekend will be the first permanent piece of art he creates in the United States.

“Isn’t that crazy? It’s my first one.”

It’s also another step in the transformation of the skate park that welcomed the police department’s juvenile unit last fall and K9 unit this spring, and it marks another advance in the community as the first full event organized by the West Scranton-Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch.

“The park was not really being supervised. It was not getting locked up at night, and when we had a couple of incidents here that the neighborhood didn’t want to stand for anymore, we collaborated with Chief Duffy,” Watch President Karin Foster recalled at a press conference held last week.

Duffy, who said he served solely as a middleman to put Michalowski and the crime watch together, said he’s proud to see two very distinct groups collaborate on this weekend’s party and painting.

“It’s bizarre, to say the least, to see two entities like this get together, but it’s for a great cause. It’s about showing your commitment to the community. Ted’s from West Scranton, I’m the chief in Scranton, and Karin is committed to the community in West Scranton,” he said.

And it’s another chance for the chief to pair up with Michalowski outside of their once shared classroom.

“Although we both have different professions, our heart’s in the same place, and it’s making things better.”

Michalowski said the mural will be created using brushes and paint because spray paint would likely invite more spray paint.

“The theme is going to be the skateboarders themselves that skate here,” he added. “It’s also a great graffiti deterrent because if the skaters are here and they look over and see themselves on the wall or their friend on the wall, then they’ll feel a bit of unity and therefore community.”

The artist said he hopes the mural project will provide “an injection of culture against negative remarks on the area,” and he hopes people come away with an excitement and pride for what creative minds in the region can create.

“That’s the great thing about Scranton as opposed to a bigger city. I’ve been fortunate enough to establish relationships with people who have the ability to open the doors that I’d like to have opened to make these events happen,” Michalowski said. “There are people who want to see the culture of the area escalate, so they’re willing to listen to ideas.

“(The project) kind of runs on people’s aspirations and the excitement for potential. People can come away with a little bit of pride from living in the area.”

If you go

WHAT: Skate competition during “Lords of Drawtown” mural block party

WHERE: Jackson Street skate park, corner of Jackson Street and North Bromley Avenue, Scranton.

SPONSORS: Zumiez and Underwood Skatepark.

DETAILS: Saturday, July 16. Registration from 2 to 2:45 p.m. $5 for ages 4 to 7, $10 for all other skaters. 2:30 p.m.: Competition clinic. 3:30 p.m.: Beginners competition, ages 4-7. 4 p.m.: Beginners competition, 8 and up. 4:30 p.m.: Intermediate competition, 8 and up.

Sunday, July 17. Registration from 2 to 2:45 p.m. 3 p.m.: Advanced competition, 8 and up. 4 p.m.: free skate. 5 p.m.: Best trick competition for beginner and intermediate skaters.


Mural project gets OK

Jackson Street park to get an artistic facelift

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Published: July 7, 2011

After painting murals on a Drawing Socials tour in Poland last summer, artist Ted Michalowski developed new eyes for walls.

“There’s a big graffiti problem throughout Poland … so they like these mural projects where I’ll go and get a team of artists to paint a mural and it becomes a party through the day while Jason Smeltzer and other musicians play live music,” Michalowski said last week at a press conference for the inaugural Drawcore Skate Park Block Party to be held at the Jackson Street Skate Park in West Scranton on July 16-17.

A resident of West Side, Michalowski drove by the park often enough to finally inquire about a tall, white wall frequently targeted by graffiti artists. It just so happens that Michalowski went to school with Scranton Chief of Police Dan Duffy – they were eighth grade computer partners – and wasn’t shy about asking him what he had to do to bring a project similar to those he’d done in Poland to Scranton.

Chief Duffy introduced Michalowski to West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Crime Watch president Karin Foster, and then stepped back.

“The only thing I can draw is my gun,” Duffy joked. “I go around preaching ‘Be Part of the Solution.’ But it’s unique to see a police department, a group of artists and a neighborhood organization working together.”

“It’s an evolution of the solution,” Michalowski added.

As it happens, the young people who frequent the park had been asking about holding a skateboard competition, Foster explained.

“It’s been a perfect storm to get this underway. The time was right that everyone wanted to get involved and make this happen for our community,” she said.

The park is experiencing a new wave of activity thanks to the presence of a West Side police patrol headquarters at the park and a reinvigorated neighborhood crime watch contingent that recently spearheaded the planting of a community earth box garden and hosted a family film screening. It’s hoped the mural will become a sort of city landmark.

Michalowski’s Marywood University fieldwork experience students and Arts Alive students will be integral to the project, and photographer Dino DeNaples will capture images of neighborhood skateboarders on which the mural will be based.

“The fact that there are skaters on the wall – it will probably be self-policed,” Michalowski suggested.

Skateboarders in at least two different age brackets will be awarded gift certificates for Best Trick, according to Nick Barbose of Zumiez, who is helping to coordinate the competition. Skaters can register in advance at Zumiez’s stores at The Shoppes at Montage or Wyoming Valley Mall, at UnderWood Skatepark in Taylor, or at the Jackson Street park from 2 to 2:45 p.m. the day of the block party. Fees range from $5 to $10. Parents or guardians are asked to accompany children younger than 18. Demonstrations of the proper skills and form expected in each age division will be offered at 2:30 p.m.

The event will also feature live music on Saturday by Tribal Waves and Red Green Blue, and projects featuring Tyler Dempsey, Bobby Davis, and Chris Connors. Sunday’s acts include Smetlzer & Smyth, Adam Catscratch & the Biotech Band, and the Chet Williams Project. A Drawcore All-Star Jam will close out the evening at 7 p.m. Basketball scrimmages will be held both days from 6 to 8 p.m.

Food and merchant vendor spaces are available for a small fee, and free of charge to local non-profit organizations. More information is available at

– alicia grega

Neighborhood group eyes revitalization of West Scranton skate park

by steve mcconnell (staff writer)
Published: July 1, 2011

West Scranton community organizers are hoping to transform a neighborhood skate park plagued in the past by graffiti and violence into a destination for the city’s youth.

At the Jackson Street Skatepark on Thursday afternoon, the West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch announced a new effort that will include a skateboard competition and clinics, basketball scrimmages, mural painting, and live music over two days this month.

“We need to change the image of this facility and build a sense of community,” said Karin Foster, neighborhood watch president. “Our hope is to make this an annual event.”

Mrs. Foster said her group formed a partnership with local businesses and city government and police to help launch the “DrawCore Skatepark Mural Block Party” on Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, which they hope will eventually lead to more youth-centered events there.

The effort comes after city police recently announced creation of a West Side precinct on the edge of the park.

One unique element of the block party will be the painting of a large, white wall by Marywood University students, accompanied by Marywood art instructor Ted Michalowski.

The hope is that creating art in the park, much of it reflecting skateboarders in action, will deter graffiti and make it a more welcoming place, Mr. Michalowski said.

“It’s an evolution of the solution,” said Mr. Michalowski, 37, a neighborhood resident playing off the Scranton Police Department’s slogan, “Be Part of the Solution.”

“It’s so unique to see a police department, a group of artists and a neighborhood association together,” Scranton Police Chief Dan Duffy said.

Registration and a schedule of events is available online at or by email at

Organizers said the public should check the website periodically to get the most updated information.

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