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Last week marked the closing of a central Florida institution, the Vans Skatepark of Orlando. In existence for over a decade, the Vans park was home to many locals, fostering the talents of the many riders in the area. Before the park shut down for good, Vans hosted one final BMX session (for free) and invited select members of their pro team (plus Robbie Morales) to get in on the session. ESPN contributor and Vans local Brett Rohlfing was on hand to capture the last session (and also get a clip).
According to Rohlfing: "The loss of the Vans Skatepark in Orlando is more than just a big room full of ramps going away. It was a second home for many of the locals. Everyone knew everyone else's names (including the employees), and it lacked the cold, cliquey feel that some parks have. If you were from out of town, or just starting BMX, you were welcomed with the same warmth that any local would be. It helped cultivate new talent like Trey Jones, and it helped keep some of the more seasoned pros like Rob Nolli and Tom Haugen stay riding at a high level. Even though the ramps will soon be completely dismantled and removed, the fun times, friends and progression that happened there will live on in our minds for many years to come."
With the Vans park now shut down, and the fate of the nearby Casselberry Trails still up in the air, the central Florida scene could be forced to search for new riding spots in the not too distant future. In the meantime, Chad Degroot of Mr. Bikes and Boards is posting updates on the progress of a new Longwood park on the Mr. B website.