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Skatepark event teeming with teens

October 18, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

STATE LINE, Pa. -- Teenagers filled every room of Crossroads Church on Sunday afternoon and lounged outside on the church's new skatepark equipment.

Teens were the guests of honor at an event officially opening the skatepark for use.

The threat of inclement weather prompted organizers to move festivities inside and cancel a visit from a professional skateboarding team. However, dozens of youth gathered for music and food, and said they hope others join them.

The skatepark "is going to bring kids to the church," said Joseph Bechtel, 17.

"It's going to encourage youth in the community, and it'll give us a chance to witness," said his father, Karl Bechtel.

Youth Director Lee Martin showed off the downstairs portion of the Pennsylvania Avenue church that will be converted into a coffee bar and lounge. Teens played Christian rock music in the worship area.

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Martin said he hopes the outreach efforts yield strong Christian leaders.

"Without them, there won't be a church later on," he said.

A Williamsport, Md., church donated the half-pipe, and other apparatus was subsequently donated. Volunteers started assembling the pieces in the spring and haven't finished everything yet.

Martin said teenagers would see the construction, stop to ask questions and pass along their phone numbers for a call when the skatepark opened.

"We have all the gear they need. All they need to do is show up," Martin said, saying that parental consent is needed on a form for participants younger than 18.

Joseph Bechtel, who identified the rail as the most difficult feature, said the design was essentially putting pieces of equipment where they seemed most logical.

"Skateboarders want rails, ramps and drop-ins. They basically have a variety here," Karl Bechtel said.

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