HOLTVILLE — The sharp sounds of wheels rolling through the tennis courts-turned-skate park in Samaha Park was accompanied by the word of God on Saturday evening.
About 50 people, many children on their bicycles or skateboards, watched and rolled across the concrete, over wooden ramps and around other skaters for the skateboard and bike demonstration held by New Creations God’s Gang Youth Center and Open Arms Fellowship.
“It was tons of fun,” said Jason Cardenas, 16, of El Centro.
The crowd was great as they got to hear God’s word throughout the event, including a prayer after the skating, he said. It was also fun getting to ride his bike up the ramp and hit his 360 degree trick.
Giann Pulido, 18, of Holtville also enjoyed riding around the court, though his vehicle of choice was a skateboard. He said he hopes more events like Saturday’s happen.
There’s not always a lot to do in the city, he said. It was pretty cool that these groups brought out the equipment to ride and do something on a Saturday night.
The Rev. Rudy Garcia of Open Arms Fellowship knows from experience how bad it can be to not have anything to do. As a kid growing up in Holtville, he said he and his friends used to just hang around street corners. Then bad influences got in the way.
He found himself a cocaine addict about 20 years ago, until the Rev. Fernando Rivas of the Imperial Valley Ministry took him in and gave him a chance, Garcia said. Now he wants to give back to his community.
Without proper guidance like the church or God, there is a better likelihood that bad influences could put the children’s life on a bad path, he said. Things like Saturday’s event “just to let them know they’re special and can have a life outside of gangs and drugs,” Garcia said.
He said that the groups plan to have more events like it, maybe once every month or two, he said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.