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Rochester's The Garden skatepark built for 6-year-old beginners and 65-year-old veterans

The Garden indoor skatepark is set to open in February, about six months after Adam and Laura Kramer bought the former Whiskey Bones building.

The Garden
Owners Laura Kramer and her husband Adam, their son Charlie, 12, and daughter Allie, 13, ramp builder Swamp Trog and Cory Distad — who is helping with construction of the park — are pictured on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — There isn’t a person in Rochester more excited for The Garden skatepark to open than 12-year-old Charlie Kramer.

And that’s not just because his parents, Laura and Adam, are the owners.

Charlie started skateboarding three years ago. It immediately became his sport, and Charlie spent hours outside in the warmer months at the outdoor skatepark in Rochester.

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When the weather cooled and snow came, it became impossible for Charlie to skateboard locally, as the last indoor skatepark in Rochester closed in 2011. So Laura Kramer and Charlie would trek to the Twin Cities area, allowing Charlie to continue growing as a skater.

It was a lot of driving, but it was worth it, Laura Kramer said.

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“They’re so encouraging. That’s what actually inspired me (to open The Garden),” she said. “I would take Charlie, and, being a 10-year-old, I’d have to watch him. Charlie would do something and these older guys would go and encourage him.

“It’s like this group of people that are genuinely excited to help everybody else out. It’s not this weird competitive thing. So I was like, ‘I want more of that. And I want our kids to have more of that.’”

Soon, Rochester residents will be able to experience the culture of skateboarding, with The Garden slated to open in early- to mid-February. The Kramers bought the former Whiskey Bones building in August, but it needed about six months of construction, done by Adam Kramer, the owner of Kramer Contracting; Swamp Trog, the ramp designer; and Cory Distad, a longtime skateboarder, among others.

The space includes the skatepark — a 40-foot by 96-foot rectangular area — a skate shop and a coffee shop, where the Kramers’ teenage daughters will be working.

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Adam Kramer at The Garden skatepark on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Adding the coffee shop was a unique idea for a skatepark. Part of the reasoning stemmed from Laura’s experiences at other skateparks: There isn’t much for waiting moms to do besides sit on bleachers and watch. The coffee shop is a way to give every skatepark visitor something to do.

“I want this to feel like coming home,” Laura said. “I want kids to feel like they can come get dropped off here and feel comfortable. Even if they’re not skating, maybe they want to have some coffee and do their homework here. I want this to be (the place) they want to be.”

Adam Kramer added that “it was appealing to provide a place where people could hang out and bring the youth into (the skating) community.”

Once The Garden opens, area skaters will have a great place to learn or grow in the sport. It was the driving force behind the ramps at the skatepark, which were designed by Trog, who is the ramp builder at 3rd Lair in Golden Valley.

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“(The ramps) are made to the specs that allow kids to learn to skateboard on, and also progress on,” he said. “It’s something for your first day as a skateboarder to your 30th year as a skateboarder.”

“We’re literally trying to capture that,” Adam Kramer added. “We not only want to have the Corys of the world that have skated for 20 years. We want 6-year-olds that are learning to come and do it. too. Literally, that was exactly what we wanted it to be. That’s what we built.”

The Garden
Charlie Kramer, 12, skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
The Garden
Swamp Trog, who is the ramp designer, skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The Garden
Adam Kramer and his son Charlie, 12, watch as people skate on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
The Garden
Owner and contractor Adam Kramer skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
The Garden
Cory Distad skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
The Garden
Allie Kramer, 13, skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
The Garden
Cory Distad skates on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at The Garden skatepark in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Related Topics: ROCHESTERPEOPLE
Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. While at ASU, she created short- and long-form stories for audio and digital. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or asharpe@postbulletin.com.
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