By Benjamin George
The abandoned area beneath a railroad bridge near downtown Worcester has recently been repurposed by the Central Massachusetts skating community into the kind of skate park that most skateboarders can only dream of.
Located at the dead end of Washington Street behind Green Street, Worcide is a “Do It Yourself” skate park begun in 2007 by a group of best friends. Originally influenced by other DIY parks around the country, such as Burnside in Portland and FDR in Philadelphia, Worcide gives the power back to the people, because all the decisions about what happens at the park are made by the skaters themselves.
Due to many complaints about the location and setup of the city-owned skate park at Green Hill, locals Jamie Dube from Barre and Adam “Kappo” Kacprzicki from Worcester decided to take the matter into their owns hands. Little did they know how huge this park would eventually end up becoming.
Kacprzicki said that the idea of building ramps for themselves came into his head one day while skating down in Philly.
“We came across a barrier that someone had concreted up, we skated there for hours and we were like, ‘We should make one of these in Worcester.’” said Kacprzicki. “So when we came back, we built the barrier and it kinda kept going. We didn’t really plan on making an entire skate park.We just wanted a barrier essentially.”
After returning from their trip, they explored Worcester to find the perfect place for the barrier, and the space at the end of Washington Street under the train tracks emerged as the front-runner.
“There was nothing; on the day one picture I have, there was nothing. No plants or anything just clean sidewalks that went back. It was the perfect place,” said Kacprzicki.
With the rain cover from the tracks above, as well as the clean and clear pavement, the project was on its way by the spring of 2007. At first, it seemed like a lot of work, but Dube wasn’t deterred.
“Of course this is going to take a lot of effort, but it does not compare to the amount of fun you will have doing it,” he told himself at the time.
After looking up tutorials about how to make molds to pour concrete, their plan for the barrier ramp was put into place. They filled up a couple 55 gallon barrels with water, putting them in the back of Dube’s truck, and mixed hundreds of bags by hand until their creation was born. After they finished constructing the barrier, Kacprzicki and Dube soon found themselves spending more hours working on Worcide, constantly improving it. Building has become a hobby for Kacprzicki and Dube; their drive was contagious and the skating nation quickly caught onto this spot with immense potential. Soon, people they didn’t even know wanted to help.
Dube explains that when they first posted online that they were looking for donations and bodies to help expand, the community’s reaction was outstanding.
“[Grindline Skateparks] just built a park in Western Mass — some of those guys came out and helped us out. They just built a bowl in Acton — some of those guys came and helped us out. The demolition place down the street lets us use their equipment now. A lot of people just see what we are doing on Instagram and they are like, ‘Yo, how can I help, I’m around this week, what’s up? What are you guys doing?’ So we get a lot of help from professionals and just random people, too.”
It’s gotten so big that Independent, a well-known skateboard trucking manufacturer, stopped by Worcide with some professional and semi-professional skaters.
“It was absolutely insane to see real professional skateboarders shred up the stuff you build personally,” said Kacprzicki. “What we build has a lot of potential to harness, like since the ramps are so close to the wall. None of us can go off the wall and back onto the ramp, but other people can, and it’s just rad to see the people who can do it, do it. When that happened it showed us all the potential our spot had.”
Now the hangout has gained city-wide and national recognition, and central Massachusetts skaters couldn’t be more excited and honored about what they have built from the ground up.
Skaters find the Washington street area more conveniently located than the city-owned skatepark at Green Hill, because it’s close to local businesses like pizza shops and liquor and convenience stories. Dube says that the businesses around the park have been appreciative for the skaters’ business, and the skaters are grateful that this new location is more convenient than the Green Hill location. Kacprzicki couldn’t be happier about how this has played out, and he has seen a positive change in the community since 2007.
“The lots are level and it’s in the middle of the city; everything can be skated to and from, so it gives neighborhood kids somewhere to go that’s not running the streets,” Kacprzicki said.
The land was originally a street that cut over to Green Street, but when the trains were constructed, the city built a cement wall that creates quite the haven for skaters.
Worcide has emerged as a hidden treasure that the community of Worcester should be proud of.
“This is way beyond what we ever expected from our spot, but we are just doing it to keep the ball rolling,” said Dube. “We can’t stop here.”
Directions from Campus: Head South on Chandler Street 2.3 Miles. Turn Left onto Gold Street for 0.1 Miles. Turn Left onto Washington Street. Destination at the dead end