MT. VERNON, Mo. — Mt. Vernon’s new and only skatepark, located in The Gibbs Park, held its grand opening Friday, June 25. The event was packed with guests and featured music, food and giveaways.

The idea for a Mt. Vernon skatepark came about 20 years ago, and the project has been in the works for over a decade. The community felt it was important to provide a safe place for riders of all ages to partake in skateboarding, scootering, biking and more.

“It’s been probably 20 years that we have been talking about trying to get a skatepark in Mt. Vernon. We bubbled back up ten years ago and then again probably four years ago I kind of grabbed onto it and said ‘Let’s see what we can do,'” said Keen Bean Coffee Roasters co-owner Tracy Bradshaw.

Bradshaw says the kids needed a place to go where they could “express themselves and not get in trouble for it.”

“I think every child needs to have the opportunity to excel in whatever makes them feel good… They need a place to go. Not just a street or sidewalk – they need a park. So we worked to make that happen,” said City Administrator Max Springer.

The park is a place where people can take part in non-typical sports that, until now, did not have a designated domain.

“All the other kids in town have a football stadium, a baseball field, swimming pool. We have never had something just for the skate and bike group,” said Mt. Vernon Chamber Director Pam Dudley.

But not only does it benefit riders, it benefits the town as a whole.

Bradshaw says the park provides “reasons for people to move here that give their kids something to do.”

The cost of the skatepark was over $100,000. The group of community members, adults and children alike, raised $15,000 over the years through biscuit and gravy fundraisers and so much more. Mt. Vernon city council funded the rest.

“These kids poured themselves into this. They came to city council meetings and learned how to speak in public… They presented their idea of why they wanted this, why this was needed,” said Dudley. “And these kids have already graduated and gone off to college, but now they are coming back so excited that the younger kids in town now get to have this skatepark.”

And as of this year, skateboarding is an Olympic sport.

“So it is the perfect time to maybe create the next Olympian right here in small town America,” said Dudley.