|Tony Hawk Event Video on YouTube|
On October 17, 2009 world renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk and nine members of the Birdhouse Skate Team thrilled fans with a free skateboard demonstration at the Columbia Skate Park. Remarkably, there were no TV, radio, or newspaper ads promoting the event. The word got out to skateboard fans solely through Tony Hawk’s Twitter page. Weeks before the event date, prizes were hidden throughout the U.S. with clues to their location given on Twitter. Concealed within the prizes were clues to the location of the free exhibition event. The hints included using words such as “Tigers” and numbers indicating the latitude and longitude. As fans found the prizes, they would tweet on Twitter about what they found. But, it was not until the day before the event that the location was revealed.
Even with less than 24 hours notice of the event location, a surprising 1,500 fans gathered at Columbia Skate Park to watch Tony Hawk and the Birdhouse Team show off their skateboard skills.
The event started out with a street skateboarding demonstration at Columbia Skate Park. It was quickly evident that Tony Hawk, now 41 years old, still had skills. He awed fans with jumps, spins, and handstands as he glided effortlessly around the park. Birdhouse team members showed spectators non-traditional ways to use the elements of a skate park, such as jumping a skateboard up the rails instead of down. After a 45 minute exhibition, Tony Hawk took time to meet some of the fans and then moved to the half pipe.
Tony Hawk's company, TH Events, trucked in their own portable 34’W x 48’L x 14’H half pipe for a vertical exhibition at Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area (Cosmo Park). Tony Hawk and five other BMX/skateboard athletes who specialize in riding the half pipe showcased their tricks on the ramp.
One of the highlights of the half pipe show was the challenge Tony made to pro skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins to land a 540 (one-and-a-half revolution) - a trick not yet accomplished on record by a female skateboarder. Tony offered Lyn-Z $1,000 if she could successfully complete the feat in three attempts. Fans cheered at the possibility of skateboard history being made before their eyes. Lyn-Z came painfully close, but couldn't quite stick the landing. Tony, whose claim to fame includes being the first skateboarder to land a 900 (two-and-a-half revolutions), posted this tweet later that afternoon:
Both the skate park and half pipe exhibitions included amplified music along with an emcee. Quicksilver had kiosks set up to demonstrate Activision’s new Tony Hawk RIDE video game. Monster Energy provided sample beverages. And, local Shakespeare’s Pizza served 100 pizzas and bottled water for the skateboard fans free of charge.
While visiting Columbia, Tony Hawk said in an interview,
The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department was delighted that Tony Hawk and TH Events chose Columbia Skate Park for their event. Although other Missouri sites were considered, Columbia was chosen because its skate park is located within a roomy 533-acre park with plenty of parking, has easy access off of Highway 70, is centrally located in the state of Missouri, and has a Parks and Recreation Department that was willing and eager to do whatever it took to host a Tony Hawk skateboard event for their community.
Nothing could have proved the value of a Parks and Recreation Department providing this type of event for their community more than an essay entitled, "Meeting Tony Hawk" written by a Derby Ridge Elementary student that was printed in the Columbia Daily Tribune on February 4, 2010. After describing the event and what it had meant to him, young Joey closed the essay by writing,