Why skateboarding legend Tony Hawk was in Virginia: 'It's an honor that this many people would show up'

'It's always been a strong skate scene here in Virginia Beach and it has not stopped'
Tony Hawk
Posted at 4:42 PM, Jun 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-04 16:42:03-04

VIRGINIA BEACH — It didn't take long for the memories of Hampton Roads to come back for Tony Hawk.

"There used to be a big skate event here at Mt. Trashmore in the 80s," he said. "I came to those, I did a lot of exhibitions here too."

The nostalgia rushing in during his appearance on Saturday at the Jackalope Fest in Virginia Beach. The skateboarding legend signing autographs for fans at the Hilton Oceanfront before snapping on the helmet and hitting the half-pipe on the beach for his "Tony Hawk and Friends Vert Showdown."

"It's an honor that this many people would show up," Hawk said. "It's always been a strong skate scene here in Virginia Beach and it has not stopped."

"Our event has been established in Montreal for the past 10 years and we saw the power of having Tony in the room," said Micah Desforges, Jackalope Fest executive producer. "People get excited like if they were a young kid."

His influence on the weekend felt well beyond the skateboarders. Zach DiPaolo is Virginia's first ever professional freestyle motocross rider. He's competed on national stages throughout his career, including on American Ninja Warrior.

Yet the chance to show out in front of Hawk, trying for a 75 foot backflip on the beach Saturday afternoon, was a moment he couldn't top.

"The dude's my hero. Grew up watching him skate, playing his games," DiPaolo said. "Literally just the sheer mention of his name inspired me to chase the ultimate goal of mine. That tells you right there."

Hawk doesn't take much credit for the scene at Oceanfront over the weekend, instead shining light on the sport he's still so passionate about.

"Skating has really come of age," he said. "It show's how far reaching it is with age and gender and backgrounds and this is just a big celebration of that."

Those who grew up watching his accomplishments, however, consider it once in a lifetime to chat with him or get a glimpse of his skills throughout the weekend.

"It's got to be the coolest experience of my life," DiPaolo said.