|The public is invited to send off the
group tomorrow at 8 a.m., at City Hall, the Polk Street entrance.
The patrol started in
1979 when roller skating was in its heyday. On Sundays, vendors would line up vans of
rental skates and skateboards on Fulton Street. But as these wheels gained popularity,
conditions became overcrowded. Arguments broke out among participants because of the
The Recreation and Park Department threatened to end vending unless each entrepreneur
provided two skate patrol people to control the crowd. They complied, but the growing
popularity of Sunday skating caused vendors to begin vying for prime marketing space and
arguing among themselves.
In 1981, still faced with crowd problems, complaints from the neighbors, and an
inability to unify the patrolers, the city banned all vending. The surviving patrolers
remained with the Golden Gate Skate Patrol with Miles as president. The crowds died down,
and other sports became popular. However, with the advent of rollerblades a few years ago,
skating has picked up again.
In '87 and '88 skating started coming back," said Miles. "Spring is here and
it's getting busy, but this summer, it's really going to be packed." Miles, who has
been skating for over 11 years, has combined his love of the sport with his desire to help
kids stay away from drugs and find trouble-free outlets.
"We use skating as a positive message to kids," said Miles. "Kids come
by and they see how much fun we're having, they want to learn how to do all of it. They
want to be like us. . . Our whole attitude is to be there for people. There are things to
do out there other than drugs.
"We're basically the eyes and ears for the Recreation and Park Department,"
said Miles' right-foot man Arthur Howard, "We teach people to skate. We guide cars
and motorcycles out of the area if they find their way in, and we get help if there's an
injury," "We have a real eclectic group", Howard continues. "There are
whites, blacks, men, women, young, old - the whole nine yards. Skating brings us together,
it goes across all these boundaries:"
The junior patrol consists of young men and women, age 14 to 21, who are called
"Explorers," "Explorers aren't the Boy Scouts where you learn to, tie knots
and go camping," said Miles, "Explorers are urban adventurers. And the adult
participants on the patrol give the young people a chance to learn."
The group also sponsors many different races and exhibitions for the young skaters.
"They were practicing every weekend with nowhere to show it off," said Miles.
"So we are giving them a chance:'
The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol meets at noon in the park near Sixth
Avenue and Fulton St. Contact David Miles at 415-752-1967 for more information