At one time, skateboarding was nearly an underground activity. Skaters were often considered rebels or troublemakers, young punks who didn't care about the rules and created their own skate parks in empty swimming pools or wherever they could.

But over the last few decades, skateboarding has become part of mainstream society. Now, video games tout the accomplishments of the most famous professional skaters, and international skateboarding contests are broadcast on ESPN. Communities across the country have their own custom-built skateparks, where adults, children and teens go to play.

Celebrations like Go Skateboarding Day seek to bring even more devotees into the fold by making an organized effort to promote the sport. And while skateboarding has become decidedly mainstream, it has managed to keep a little bit of its attitude.

"Skateboarders around the globe will celebrate the pure exhilaration, creativity and spirit of one of the most influential activities in the world by blowing off all other obligations to go skateboarding," reads the official Web site for Go Skateboarding Day (goskateboardingday.org).

Go Skateboarding Day is a worldwide event, founded by the International Association of Skateboard Companies. Every year on the summer solstice--Sunday, June 21, this year--communities around the world host events to gather skateboarders. Some make a full-on festival out of it, while others make it a charitable event, but all pay homage to the roots of the sport, as well as its future.

This year, events will be held in Portugal, Africa, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Japan, England, Australia and Canada, as well as in cities across the United States.

While you don't necessarily have to "blow off" all your obligations and cut out of your responsibilities, local events will give Treasure Valley skaters a chance to celebrate--with just a little advanced planning.

The Boardroom is hosting a celebration this year at Eagle Skate Park Saturday, June 20, noon to 5 p.m.--one day earlier than the official "holiday."

It's an all-ages, family friendly event promoting safe and responsible skateboarding, but it also comes attached to one very attractive word: free.

Free, as in, a free open skate competition, free skateboarding games, free skateboarding exhibition by the Boardroom's team, free barbecue and drinks (noon to 3 p.m.), free dunk tank, free music, free graffiti art exhibition, and free health advice from St. Luke's Regional Medical Center.

Last year, the event drew more than 300 people, so this year's schedule was expanded to draw in even more skaters and would-be skaters.

Local skate shops Newt and Harold's and Prestige will host their own event on Sunday, June 21, at downtown Boise's own skate park, Rhodes Park, beginning at 3 p.m. The event, co-sponsored by the City of Boise, will feature live music, free barbecue and a free mini contest. This is an all-ages event as well, and helmets are required for all competitors, regardless of age.

Sure, skaters might still have a bit of that good old punk attitude, they just protect their noggins better these days. For more details, see Eight Days Out on Page 18.

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