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Skateboard Park named for Diego Duran

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image Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan shakes hands with Diego Duran of Ruskin when the sign for the Apollo Beach skateboard park was unveiled. Looking on from left are Diego’s mother, Sandy, Commissioner Sandra Murman, Mark Thornton of Hillsborough

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By Mitch Traphagen

APOLLO BEACH - On Saturday, the public was invited to the official opening of the Diego Duran Skateboard Plaza in Apollo Beach. Last week, the Board of Hillsborough County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve naming the skate park in honor of Diego, the 13-year-old boy from Ruskin who was hit by “celebratory” gunfire on New Year’s Day. Seriously injured, Diego endured multiple medical and surgical procedures since the incident. He has only recently returned to school full-time, while still recovering from his injury.

Hillsborough County Commissioners Ken Hagan and Sandra Murman and Mark Thornton of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation were on hand to join Diego and his family for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Commissioner Hagan also presented Diego with a skateboarding helmet.

The focus of the event was to symbolize Hillsborough County’s commitment to always have safe areas for children to play outside. During the event, Commissioners Hagan and Murman spoke, along with Southshore Chamber of Commerce executive director Melanie Morrison who said she was very proud to know Diego is in the community and the naming of the park in his honor reflects the admiration and support of him and his family in Hillsborough County. Diego’s mother, Sandy Duran, also spoke and expressed her gratitude to the community. Duran, along with her son, is the organizer of the Bullet Free Sky campaign, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of celebratory gunfire.

The threat of celebratory gunfire remains omnipresent as long as those who commit such crimes continue to do so, often with the thought that there are no victims. Firing a weapon in such a manner is a crime in most populated areas within the county. At least two people were injured by such gunfire in the Tampa Bay area over the Fourth of July holiday and, nationally, people have been killed and even injured while in their own homes. A bullet fired into the air can travel for up to three miles before crashing back down to earth.

The 11,000 square-foot Diego Duran Skateboard Plaza is located at 664 Golf and Sea Blvd. in Apollo Beach. It is shaped like a three-pointed star with an elevated center. Each of the three points has a structure that allows skaters to turn around and keep a constant flow. Its unique shape and landscape allows for endless lines throughout. Any skater can skate around the entire park or simply skate one element at a time. There is also space set aside for young people to gather. According to the county, the park contains various textures, providing for a real street experience.

All skaters must wear helmets and complete a notarized waiver. The park is open Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/parks or call 813-635-3500. For information about Bullet Free Sky, visit www.bulletfreesky.com.

091312 Diego Duran Skateboard Plaza - Images by Mitch Traphagen

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