When Bayfront Park isn’t being trampled by Ultra-goers or run over by marathoners, Miami’s downtown park leads a pretty low key existence, hosting weekly yoga classes and capoeira sessions along with the occasional concert in the amphitheater. Miami native Alex Macias would often look down from his unit in One Miami, with its bird’s eye view of the park, on the beautiful Pepper Fountain in the center and wonder why locals didn’t flock to Bayfront Park obsessively, with its beautiful waterfront vista and its proximity to the movement of downtown.
Alex and his brother, Marcos, who together own Macias, an advertising and brand development agency based in Coral Gables, came up with a clever idea to get locals to roll in to Bayfront Park last February, after submitting a proposal to The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge to turn the circular ring around Bayfront’s Pepper Fountain into a free pop-up roller rink, complete with a DJ, skate rentals and an armada of food trucks. Bay Skate was born.
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“The first incarnation was Feb. 26 and we had about 2,500 people show up,” says Alex Macias. “What was interesting about the event was it was a rare opportunity to engage people of all cultures, ages, lifestyles. It brought out the skate crews, derby girls, the hipsters, the kids. It brought everyone together. It had a lot of different types of music, a lot of types of vibes. It was a cool event.”
This Friday, the Macias brothers bring the event back to Bayfront Park for another go round, with the hope of converting Bay Skate into a monthly affair. “We wanted to do something for the community outside of ticketed events, something dedicated to locals. The people who live here deserve more and public resources should be put to use,” says Alex Macias.
“Miami is not only a great place to visit, but really it’s one of the best places to live,” agrees Marcos Macias. “Our goal is to continue to give back to this core community that makes Miami home through the creation of dynamic experiences while at the same time activating and bringing attention to our public spaces.”
Though skating may seem so retro, it has always been a part of the fabric of Miami life, with longstanding venue Kendall’s Super Wheels (previously known as Hot Wheels) keeping the tradition alive since 1987. Says Alex, 41, “Skating was part of growing up here in South Florida. We were at Hot Wheels every Monday night for a good portion of my teenage years. It was part of my every day routine.” The Macias brothers even got Super Wheels involved in the initiative by asking them to provide Bay Skate with quad skate rentals, shoe valet and skate guards to keep things orderly on the improvised rink. Even though skates will be available, participants are encouraged to bring their own quad skates, in-line skates or skateboards.
Bay Skate is a family affair, with a Family Skate from 5-7 p.m. where a team of musical curators and DJs will play everything from classic roller skating hymns to whatever the kids are listening to today. After 7 p.m. is the Adult Skate. Between laps around the fountain skaters can pick up beer at a Wynwood Brewing Co. outpost, snack on bites from food trucks like Sakaya, Blackbrick, Centro Taco and many others. Local musician Gaby Duran will act as mistress of ceremonies and the event promises to turn out celebrity appearances throughout the evening.
Alex assures that Miami skaters are more courteous than Miami drivers and that there were no injuries in the first event. The interior wall that surrounds the Pepper Fountain became the default lane for beginners and kids and that the porous floor of smooth concrete will make it easy to skate even if they catch a little Miami rain.