Get stoked, Detroit skaters! The city has been picked as the site of the ninth annual Wild in the Streets, a national skating event on Thursday, international Go Skateboarding Day.
Skateboarders are asked to show up at Detroit's Hart Plaza at noon, where they'll skate around for a short while before embarking on a five-mile, one-of-a-kind trip through the city. Essentially, the event is a skateboarder's version of Critical Mass, a monthly event where cyclists take to the streets in large numbers.
"This a celebration," said Mark Waters, a longtime California skater who's helping organize the event. "There's nothing like skating through the streets with a thousand people. It empowers kids."
Past "Wild in the Streets" events in places like New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver have drawn thousands. Waters, who's been involved with the event since it started in 2004, is expecting between 2,000 and 5,000 people for this year's meetup. He said he already knows of three skaters from Japan who flew in to attend "Wild in the Streets" and he's letting a group from Anaheim, Calif., crash with him when he found out they had driven to Detroit to participate. Waters said he's blown away by the amount of support and enthusiasm he's received from the local skating community.
"We've done this nine times and nothings been like the the city of Detroit," Waters told The Huffington Post. "It's so easy to work with people ... and we feel kind of lucky getting the reception we've had coming in as outside skateboarders."
The event is being sponsored by Emerica, a skateboard shoe company and team sponsor that once employed Waters. Both Waters and members of Emerica's professional skateboard team are promoting the Thursday ride to benefit the construction of the RideIt Sculpture Park, a special skate park revitalization project being put together in Detroit near the East Davison Freeway by a group called Power House Productions. They're also helping raise awareness about an effort by a Florida-based non-profit skateboarding project called Boards for Bros to donate almost 100 skateboards to youth who live in the neighborhood by the park.
Waters said construction has already started on the skate park, adding that it's received a lot of support from local artists and skate shops. It will receive a little more Thursday night after the ride when Modern Skate Park in Royal Oak will hold a benefit for the park organized by Jay Navarro, a former member of the rock group Suicide Machines. Real Detroit reports that Navarro's new band Break Anchor will be performing with Child Bite, Snakewing, Drunk Dom & the Roaches and Wrist Rocket.
Part of the proceeds from the benefit concert will go to the family of Ryan Gaynier, a local skateboarder who died in a car accident over the weekend. This year's Wild in the Streets is dedicated to Gaynier, who rode for the Refuge Skateboardshop in Dearborn, Mich.
The "Wild in the Streets" skateboard ride takes place Thursday at noon at Hart Plaza in Detroit. The after party/benefit concert will happen at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Modern Skate Park at 1500 North Stephenson Hwy. in Royal Oak.
UPDATE: 7:30 p.m. -- Check out some riders and tricks from the Wild in the Street ride in the gallery below.