CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The eighth annual "Andy Day" at Andrew Johnson Memorial Skatepark on April 12 in Clearlake saw skateboarders and BMX bikers celebrating the young man responsible for bringing them together.
The event was filled with daredevil tricks, monstrous music and fond memories of a lost friend and role model.
Johnson, who was an avid skateboarder and BMX rider, was killed in a vehicle collision in 2006 while traveling with friends to a skateboard/BMX facility in Eureka.
Prior to his death, he built a bridge between skateboarders and BMX bikers at the Clearlake Skate Park that instilled camaraderie among area youth.
In 2008, Johnson’s memory was immortalized after the skateboarding/BMX biking community united in efforts to have the skate park in Clearlake named in his honor.
Councilman Joey Luiz said the skate park effort launched his career into local politics. He recognized the efforts of Michele Bush and her son Ricky, who also were at the forefront of repairing, reopening and dedicating the park.
Luiz recalled and lauded contributions and commitment that resulted in $15,000 in repairs to skate park ramps.
"We appreciate Andy Day at City Hall and we appreciate this skate park for our city's youth and what everyone did to get it reopened. Andy would be very proud," Luiz said. "We will not tolerate those gates to be closed again. Happy Andy Day!"
Athletes of all ages took their wheels to the ramps.
Josh Sharp, 11, of Clearlake Oaks, said his brother-in-law was friends with Johnson. "I know Andy will always be here," he said, with his helmet firmly in place en route to his favorite ramp.
Vice Mayor Gina Fortino Dickson strapped a helmet as well, borrowed a bike and hit the ramps, too, literally.
With a bit of encouragement from Mayor Denise Loustalot and a cheering section of enthusiastic youth, Officer Travis Parsons put on safety gear and showed the crowd he is a just skater at heart.
"Today marks eight years when Andy Johnson's life was taken in a car accident along with three other youths. Andy's ability to ride, friendships and ability to bring people together is amazing," Michele Bush said. "(It) was another epic Andy Day and we will continue to honor Andrew Daniel Johnson. You are loved and missed."
Email Denise Rockenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org .