BATH — If you’re 17, or 20, or even 22 years old, finding any kind of nightlife outside of cities like Portland can be a real challenge. And for those over 21, who wants to go to a bar every night?
What if there was a place where gaming, snacking, comfy recliners and bean bags invited young adults to be part of a community?
In an attempt to offer that kind of welcoming environment to young adults in the greater Bath-Brunswick area, the Bath Skatepark (The Park) is now offering the last Friday night of each month to that demographic, in extended hours from 9 to 11 p.m.
It’s called “Millennial Nights,” and this Friday will be the second event.
“Last month was kind of a trial run, and it was great,” said Josh “Big Red” Matts, an employee at The Park. “There was skating, but there was also a lot of gaming and hanging out. We gave away a $100 gift card for Zumiez (a popular skater clothing and gear company) and there was free food. It’s really a great way to meet other people.”
There will be a movie screened at this month’s Millennial Night, and more free food, donated by the community and local volunteers.
“We’d been discussing ways to better support the young adults in our community, and came up with this idea,” said Jamie Dorr, executive director of The Park.
“There aren’t a lot of evening activities offered, and we thought that having a night where the facility sort of belongs to them, and that runs later, might be a good place to start.”
Dorr hopes that word will spread to young adults from Woolwich to Brunswick that the last Friday of the month at The Park offers an opportunity to gather, socialize, get a meal and skate, if that’s something they’re interested in doing.
“Social media is helping us get the word out, and we hope to really get a significant number of people to come,” Matts said. “If you’re not a skater, gaming is a great uniter. A game called Fortnite is pretty popular here, it’s kind of like World of Warcraft. A lot of people can play together, though you have to take turns; and that’s no problem!”
Not only can attendees win gift cards from places like Game Stop, Target and Pac Sun, and dig into some free home-cooked food or pizza, but The Park also gives out Teen Essentials bags, to anyone who asks for them. They contain things like toiletries and personal items, and can be helpful to anyone living on a shoestring.
Offering camaraderie and community is only part of the idea.
“It’s really about offering something fun to do. Where else are you going to be on a Friday night, where you can’t get into trouble?” Matts laughed.
Matts says The Park, in general, is a good place for kids to hang out, as it’s “pretty much clique-less.”
“We’re not like other skate parks or teen centers,” Matts said. “The people here really make the difference, it’s more like a family. We have everyone’s back. It can be hard to meet other kids in high school sometimes. But you come here, and you see a kid you thought you had nothing in common with, and notice he’s playing a game that you really like, or he’s a skater and you’re just starting out… it’s just easier.”
That sense of camaraderie and trust might be what allowed Matts to sit, reading Thrasher magazine, while ace skater Kaden Field took to the air above him for the amazing photo on page 9, by Tyler Inman.
“That photo!” Matts laughed. “Kaden is an amazing skater, he doesn’t even understand how good he is. He did that in one try! And yeah, I admit, when I saw the board coming toward my head, and I don’t have a helmet on, it was scary for a moment, I’m not gonna lie!”
The Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark is part of the Bath Parks and Recreation family, and is run on a shoestring budget. The cost of the extended hours on Millennial Nights will be covered by sponsors, which The Park will acknowledge each night.
Adult volunteers are also needed, to serve food and offer a friendly ear, if needed.
To inquire about sponsorships, volunteering or donating food, contact Jamie Dorr at 443-8750.