A small southeast city that doesn’t even have its own skateboard store is churning out some great skateboarders. Now, with help from a beverage company, the skaters are likely to get even better.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Más Diversión para los Patinadores de Bell Gardens 
On June 9, Bell Gardens elected officials and residents gathered for the opening of two new skating features recently added to the Bell Gardens Skate Park located at 6627 Florence Place.
The skate park now includes a dual ramp with a 4-foot gap (picture an elongated triangle with the middle sliced out) and a manual pad (an elevated platform, also known as a grind box) donated by Red Bull North America.
Thirteen-year-old Anthony Galindo is a student at Suva Intermediate School and said he picked up a skateboard for the first time four and a half years ago. He’s been on the Bell Gardens Skate Team for two years.
Galindo said he and his teammates are excited about the new ramps that they think will help them learn “to do new stuff and get better.” Galindo’s brother, Alexander, and sister, Cynthia, are also on the team.
Eighteen year-old Jorge Jimenez says he’s been skating at the park since it opened 11 years ago, and has been on the city’s skate team for three years. He described Saturday’s event as “awesome” and “pretty sweet.”
Jimenez and his fellow team members each received a skateboard plank (boards without the wheels), engraved by the city of Bell Gardens, during Saturday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s pretty exciting to have your name on a skateboard,” Jimenez said; noting he plans to hang it, not use it.
The boards read: “Thank you for your outstanding performance in the Bell Gardens Skate Team” and are engraved with the city’s logo, according to Oscar Flores, Bell Gardens Recreation Coordinator.
“The [skate park’s] new features will make it more exciting to come here, and it will attract people from different cities,” Flores said. “It will put Bell Gardens on the map.”
According to Flores, the Bell Gardens Skate Team’s nine members earned the park upgrades donated by Red Bull North America during the last two “7 City Hustle” competitions.
“This unique skateboarding competition imagined by Bell Gardens recreation staff and sponsored by Red Bull North America, now in its fourth year, pits amateur skateboarders—ages 7 to 17—representing seven cities in an intense team competition,” Flores said.
Red Bull has hosted three of the four 7 City Hustle competitions in Bell Gardens, and will host the next competition scheduled for August. “We’ll have Team BG qualifying rounds coming soon in preparing to bring it back to BG!” Flores said.
The city’s association with Red Bull helped bring opportunities the city otherwise would not be able to offer, Flores said. The company has also sponsored an X-Game viewing party in the city and sent the skate team to the X-Games 2011 in a party bus, he added.
Flores and others frequently use the word “generous” when referring to Red Bull’s donation and sponsorships.
Bell Gardens Mayor Pedro Aceituno, a Red Bull beverage in his hand, said the
company’s events in the city are a big deal for kids in the community. He called the city’s partnership “fortunate for the city,” and noted that the company goes all out to publicize and produce the 7 Cities Hustle.
“Typically, parents don’t get to see their kids practice at the skate park every day, but during the 7 Cities City Hustle competition they were able to see how great their kids are doing,” Aceituno told EGP.
The mayor said the two new ramps are features kids in Bell Gardens wanted, but which the city could not afford. The association with Red Bull brought the upgrades for the skaters, without an added expense to the city, it’s a “win-win situation,” he said.
“We strongly believe in diversity in programs, not everyone wants to play baseball or soccer. Skating gives young people in the city the opportunity to exercise and get away from the television,” Aceituno said.
Councilmember Daniel Crespo noted that as developments in other cities have stalled, Bell Gardens has been able to upgrade the skate park and start construction on a new senior apartment complex. Still, the state’s elimination of $3 million in redevelopment funds will be a hit to the city this year, he said.
“We’re fortunate to have good staff, and when it comes to kids, we move forward,” he said.
Christian Urias, 15 is also on the skate team. Saturday he was dripping sweat as he skated under overcast skies, and tackled the new ramps.
He encouraged others to take up the sport. “Go for it. It’s fun. If you fall no one is going to make fun of you, it’s a part of skateboarding,” he said.
Jimenez encouraged kids to start skating wile they are young, and said the 7 Cities Hustle is a good opportunity for local skaters to learn “new stuff” and have fun.
The other members of the Bell Gardens Skate Team are Gilbert Estrada, Lucas Bedolla, Sonny Perera, Erick Valdez and Rene Serano, who, according to Flores, was not at the ceremony because he was busy filming a Nike commercial.
The next 7 Cities Hustle will be held Aug. 25 in Huntington Park.