ABOVE, PETER MILLER OF FREEPORT performs a board slide on Friday at the new skateboard park in Bowdoinham as part of a demonstration during the park’s official opening and dedication ceremony. A skateboarder for 10 years, Miller said he loves the new park and that every community should have one. Also happening during the annual Celebrate Bowdoinham festival was the parade on Saturday, as seen on the right.

ABOVE, PETER MILLER OF FREEPORT performs a board slide on Friday at the new skateboard park in Bowdoinham as part of a demonstration during the park’s official opening and dedication ceremony. A skateboarder for 10 years, Miller said he loves the new park and that every community should have one. Also happening during the annual Celebrate Bowdoinham festival was the parade on Saturday, as seen on the right.

BOWDOINHAM

 

 

Bowdoinham’s new skateboard park was dedicated on Friday. The park, located at 6 Main St., is named after Matthew Townsend Parker, who died at age 15 in 2004 of viral encephalitis and viral meningitis, according to his father, Tom Parker.

Tom Parker, who spoke at the ceremony, said he and his family got a large outpouring of support after Matthew died, and they knew they had to make something positive out of the tragedy. Many contributed toward the park, but it took time to reach their fundraising goal.

SETH BERRY, LEFT, and Bowdoinham selectman Tony Lewis unveil the new sign for the Matthew Townsend Parker Memorial Skatepark at a dedication ceremony in Bowdoinham on Friday.

SETH BERRY, LEFT, and Bowdoinham selectman Tony Lewis unveil the new sign for the Matthew Townsend Parker Memorial Skatepark at a dedication ceremony in Bowdoinham on Friday.

“The whole idea behind this was to provide a healthy and fun outlet for the young people of the town, a place that would be located in the heart of the community, a place that kids would want to use, a place where they would feel welcomed,” Parker said. “From what I’ve seen this summer, it has accomplished that and much more.

“I know that wherever he is, he’s smiling down, knowing that this place has brought and will continue to bring happiness,” Parker said. “So many, many, many thanks to all who made the skateboard park possible.”

“We’re here to honor his memory today because it was really Matthew that led to today and led to this incredible gift to the children and future adults of Bowdoinham,” said state Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who helped raise funds.

The fundraising happened in fits and starts, Berry said. Some threatened to go out and mix concrete themselves, grab plywood from their barns, “and do it the Bowdoinham way.”

Some of the kids excited about the project got older — they aren’t kids anymore.

“Thirteen years happened,” Berry said.

Then, a couple years ago, the town’s community development advisory committee became involved, which made an enormous difference, Berry said.

“We arrived at the fundraising goal we needed to do the job and do it right,” Berry said.

The project is accompanied by a metal sculpture, “Star Gazer,” created by Matthew’s mother, Shirley Parker.

The star symbolism came about when Shirley was working on a sculpture called “The Star.” Matthew was helping when a piece of hot metal slag burned through his shoe and onto his foot. A few weeks later, he told her he had a “star scar.”

On “Star Gazer” there are three stars that represent herself, Tom and her oldest son Christopher, leaning back looking at the sky.

“I often sit on my deck and look at the stars and think of Matthew,” she said.

Filled with gratitude on Friday, she said, “It takes a village, and this is my village. This is our village.”

Christopher Parker said if his younger brother were at the skateboard park Friday, “I think he’d have his skateboard on it in a heartbeat.”

“For me it’s amazing to see the community come together and you realize how much people can accomplish when they work together for a good cause,” he added. “It really shows not only how much Matthew means to the community, but how much the community means to each other. It’s been a beautiful thing to see.”


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