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Rusty Berrings Skatepark now lights up the night

  • Justin Gere, of Quechee, skates a bowl under new lights at the Rusty Berrings Skatepark in West Lebanon, N.H., Thursday night, August 6, 2020. The lights, which cost over $100,000, were purchased with funds raised by Buddy Kirschner, whose son Tyler’s pen name is the namesake of the park. Tyler Kirschner, who went by Rusty Berrings while writing a blog about skating, died in 2015. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Tyler Kirschner in an undated photograph. (Family photograph)

  • Friends break from skating under the lights at the Rusty Berrings Skatepark in West Lebanon, N.H., Thursday, August 7, 2020. The lights stay on until 11 p.m. when the park closes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Brent Perdrizet, of Norwich, sweeps grit away from the seams on the concrete surface as the sun sets over the Rusty Berrings Skatepark in West Lebanon, N.H., Thursday, August 7, 2020. “I used to have to rush to to get here after work,” said Perdrizet, who is now able to skate longer into the evening after his job as a physical therapist because of newly installed lights at the park. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/8/2020 9:23:29 PM
Modified: 8/8/2020 9:23:26 PM

WEST LEBANON — It’s a bit of a haul for Buddy and Ginny Kirschner to make the trek from their home on the north side of Hanover down to the Rusty Berrings Skatepark in West Lebanon. But they keep doing it — for good reason.

The park, rededicated in the memory of their son, Tyler, four years ago, remains a place in which the Kirschners invest a lot of time and effort. The latest project produced four new light towers, installed in early July, that now allow skateboarders, inline skaters and others to work on their tricks — or just ride around — until 11 p.m. every night.

The Kirschners helped give the park a facelift four years ago, raising much of the $350,000 required for a new concrete layout to replace wooden ramps that were showing their age. The lights represent another way to remember Tyler, who died at age 28 in 2015 after years of suffering from mental illness.

“If you spend any time with Buddy and Ginny, I’m sure their passion for the park has come out,” said Rick Desharnais, interim director of the Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department.

“After all of their tremendous work to get the park built in concrete and renamed after their son, they had the vision of adding lights, and I think that some of that came from some of the folks in the skating community that they’re still connected to. They went for it; they raised the money, donated some of their own and they made it happen.”

Tyler Kirschner, who used “Rusty Berrings” as an alternate name when blogging, had a connection to skateboarding that dated back to third grade, his mother said. He first learned at a space behind Norwich’s Marion Cross Elementary School — “which was the only place you were allowed to skateboard in Norwich,” Ginny Kirschner added — and he’d build ramps in the family’s garage to keep practicing in winter.

“It was exercise and a lot of socializing,” she said. “The kids down there all look out for each other. They challenge each other with different kinds of tricks.”

While lights weren’t in the initial plans for the park, Desharnais said it became apparent there was a growing need for them.

“People skating there, they’d park their cars against the edge (of the ramps) and turn their headlights on,” he said. “In these hot summer days, it’s nice to skate when the sun does go down a little bit, when it’s much cooler. One thing we’ve heard is the kids will skate that late. But if you go down there, it’s not just kids — it’s all ages.”

The towers, which were officially illuminated on July 2, were designed with the park’s users in mind, set up so as to avoid casting shadows. They’re also programmed to dim slightly at 10:45 p.m. and again five minutes later so that riders know the night’s about to close. Desharnais can also adjust the lights’ brightness through a smartphone app.

“The days become so short after the summer ends, and the nights are so long,” Buddy Kirschner said. “This way, we can at least have the park accessible as long as it’s not icy and snowy. They can be out in earlier months of the spring and late fall, even in parts of the winter when there’s no snow around.”

The project cost was completely covered by donations, the Kirschners said. In fact, they did so well that they’ve already targeted a new project with money left over from the lights work: a covered pavilion with picnic tables that will overlook the concrete park.

Ginny Kirschner hopes construction can start this fall. The biggest challenge is securing the pressure-treated lumber necessary for it, something that’s been occasionally hard to secure given the number of home-improvement projects spawned from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We hope to have birthday parties and things,” she said. “I’m hoping moms will have a shaded place to go. Lots of times, moms come by, drop the kids off and sit in their cars.”

Ginny Kirschner knows these things because she makes a habit of visiting the skate park bearing her son’s name at least once every couple of weeks.

“We live out toward Lyme,” she said. “It’s a bit of a schlep, but I like to check it out and see the kids.”

The Kirschners — and anyone else — can now do that just about any part of the day.

“It’s fantastic,” Desharnais said. “We’re just a month into it, and people are so appreciative.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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