MARQUETTE - Marquette may play host to the world's largest skateboard parade ever next month.
The parade's organizers, Northern Michigan University Skate and Snow and the Marquette Informal Longboarding Foundation, hope to break the Guinness World Record - currently 250 people. The event will also serve as the public fundraising kickoff for Marquette's skate plaza project.
Nheena Weyer Ittner, a member of the leadership team on the Marquette Area Skate Plaza Committee, said the commitee has raised $35,000 so far - mostly from corporations and individuals - but still has a long way to go.
Ittner said the total cost of the project is about $300,000. She said the committee, which has set up a partnership with the Marquette County Community Foundation, hopes to raise the amount through cash and in-kind donations.
The city has committed funds, based on a one-to-two matching ratio, of up to $75,000 for the project. The committee would have to raise at least $150,000 to get the full amount from the city. Once the plaza is complete the city would take over ownership and maintain it.
"It's a big project, but what's really kind of nice is that it's a finite project. In other words, once that money has been raised, it's built and then we're done. People can use it," Ittner said.
The plaza will be located at the corner of Fair Avenue and Pine Street, near the YMCA.
The effort to build a skate plaza in the city is several years old. Ittner said the process of finding the right location for the plaza and getting approval from the city on it was time-consuming, but she was pleased with the result.
She said the corner site will be highly visible and desirable to skateboarders.
"We didn't want to be tucked away behind something, we didn't want to be put in a location that people couldn't get to. So we wanted a highly visible spot in the mainstream of traffic and so the YMCA spot ... really fit everybody's criteria so we were happy to accept it," she said.
She said non-skateboarders can use the plaza as a place to sit down or have lunch and watch the skateboarders.
"(The plaza) takes all the urban elements that kids are skating on that people don't want them skating on - like railings and stairways, etcetera - it's putting them in one place and building them so they're durable and building them so they're not going to crumble because the steps in front of city hall crumble, like it or not. They're not built for that kind of use," Ittner said.
The skateboard parade, along with other skateboarding events, will take place from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. on April 10 at Northern Michigan University.
For information about the community foundation go to www.marquettecountycommunityfoundation.org.
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is email@example.com.