“Valley Views” column by Margaret Miller
Summer evenings in Creston got a whole lot more interesting recently.
After an early evening walk last week with visiting family, my adult son suggested a DQ run – a drive from my West Creston home to Dairy Queen for ice-cream. Initially I hesitated. We were walking off a home cooked meal and a good book was calling. But curiosity tugged at me. A DQ run, eh?
When my two adult children were teens, they sometimes made early evening ice-cream runs. As newly licenced drivers, they happily made the 26 kilometre return trip for a cool treat. They’d borrow the family car, slap a magnetic N plate on the trunk, grab wallets, and head to town. I figured it was about much more than ice-cream. An outing for rural teens. Time to see what was happening downtown. Freedom and independence.
These days I’m not often downtown in the evenings, generally content to watch the lights of Creston twinkle from across the valley. In the pre-pandemic days, different after-dark activities drew me across the flats. Auditorium performances, Tivoli movies, dinners downtown or visits at the homes of friends. Now my socially distanced visits usually take place before sundown, so I’ve lost touch with what’s happening in town on summer evenings.
Yes, a DQ run and a chance to drive down main street with the windows down was appealing.
We drove across the valley, past grain fields and golden haystacks. My son suggested we cruise by Creston Community Park, so we pulled onto 20th Avenue above the new hillside complex. We stopped near the beach volleyball and basketball courts. The overhead lights were aglow, and all three courts were a hive of healthy activity: balls bouncing, dropping through hoops, and flying over nets. Fit looking teens and young adults enjoying healthy, outdoor activity, the sounds of their laughter and cheers drifting through our open windows.
After a few minutes, we moved our vehicle to the top of the new skate park and looked down. It was an impressive scene. About 15 young people – what appeared to be a mix of high school and elementary-aged kids – moved around the large and complex skate park. Some held skateboards under their arms and watched as others moved into and around the eight-foot deep multi-level bowl. Some performed tricks on flat bars and ledges and kick-flipped their boards. A few rode scooters and two waited on BMX bicycles (small sport bicycles used for stunt riding and racing) for their turn to drop into the bowl.
“Impressive park,” said my son, a dedicated skateboarder in his teens. “It doesn’t get much better than this.”
We watched as boarders and bikers performed feats of speed, balance and timing that required a good level of fitness and countless hours of practice. One BMX rider dropped into the bowl, pedaled to gain momentum, then performed a controlled backflip before shooting back up to land on the rim. Poetry in motion!
Some time later we drove home, enjoying ice cream cones and feeling good about our changing small town. Creston’s youth and young-at-heart can now enjoy this free, quality outdoor facility.
The success of Creston’s skatepark reminded me of Shoeless Joe, a novel by Canadian writer W.P. Kinsella which was adapted into the popular 1989 movie Field of Dreams. In this story, main character Ray is encouraged to build something unusual – a baseball diamond in his corn field – by the encouraging words, “If you build it, he will come.” The story of a farmer with a passion for baseball, the novel shows the value of chasing dreams and allowing magic to happen.
For years, an enhanced skate park was a dream for Creston boarders. Then, back in 2015, four Grade 7 students from Adam Robertson Elementary School – Jacob, Kyle, Travis and Andre – wrote to Creston Town Council about the benefits of a quality skate park. Their request was heard and, in the words of Mayor Ron Toyota, it became “… the catalyst for the development of the new skate park … the spark of this truly community initiative…”
Yes, magic is possible with vision and effort. The magic of the Creston Community Park. The magic of healthy young bodies. The magic of a back flip or a basketball dropping through a hoop on a summer evening.