City Enjoys Celebration As Community Park Opens
It was a much anticipated day for many in the City of Oakdale. On Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 community members, city officials, honorary guests and hundreds more gathered for the Grand Opening of the Oakdale Community Park.
Located to the west of the Sierra Dinner Train, on South Yosemite Avenue, the state of the art park was funded through a $4.5 million grant awarded by the state to the City of Oakdale for this specific reason. The Community Park includes a spacious amphitheater area, agility park, playground area, basketball court and a much anticipated expansive skate park.
“We’ve already received some inside information,” City Manager Bryan Whitemyer stated, following introductions of city officials and key community members instrumental in the day’s events.
“People have mentioned to me that they’ve already tried the park. I don’t know how that happened,” he continued, chuckling, “but they’ve given it two thumbs up.”
As the ribbon was cut and the west side gates opened, children, as well as adults flooded the entrance area both on wheels as well as on foot.
The playground was instantly bustling, helmets were checked
out to be in compliance with skate park rules (which was later waived for the opening day only) and the skate park abuzz with positive energy.
“I’ve been waiting 20 years for this to happen,” Oakies Board Shop owner Cryndee Dermond said of the Community Park, most specifically the skate park portion.
The skate park portion of the park bears the name Jason Turnage Skate Park, in memory of Oakies Board Shop co-founder, Apparel Graphics founder and extreme sports enthusiast Jason Turnage. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2008 at the age of 35. He passed from the disease in 2012. His interests ran the gamut from BMX bike, skateboard, snowboard, surf board and the like.
“When those gates opened the park came alive with people,” Dermond said. “There are just so many cool things going on at this one event.”
One of the most memorable of the day’s events was the dedication of the varying areas to notable community members.
Event Chairperson Amy Velasco spoke eloquently of the meaningfulness of naming the varying areas and the type of men for which they were each named.
“This park holds a very special meaning for this City,” Velasco said. “It’s named after some of our finest.”
Velasco gave mention of the four men to be honored, noting each of their unique attributes offered to the community of Oakdale.
In addition to the Jason Turnage Skate Park the other three of the four areas were named for notable Oakdale High School leaders: Ron Quintanal, ‘Mr. Q’ Ampitheater; Jack Walker, Walker Par Agility Area and Norm Antinetti Basketball Courts.
“Not all heroes wear capes,” Velasco shared with the crowd. “Sometimes they wear athletic pants, play trumpets and ride skateboards. But one thing is for sure, their dedication and love and passion for this community is immeasurable.”
Children of each of the three Oakdale High retirees, spoke prior to their fathers receiving honors, each noting a selfless nature, passion and dedication to their craft, their students and their career.
True to the five key characteristics shared by his son David, commitment, selflessness, patience, caring and humility, Norm Antinetti approached the podium with a humble stance and bright smile.
“I’m greatly honored that the basketball court is named in my honor,” Antinetti said. “It’s truly a blessing.”
The baby of the legacy bunch seated on stage, former OHS Music Director Quintanal shared with the crowd some thoughts the three men had pondered while sitting on stage.
“We just went to work every day,” he said. “Tried to do the best job we could to be good role models and influences for the kids here in Oakdale. We never expected something like this to happen.”
At the age of 94 years young, former football coach Jack Walker showed visible emotion at receiving the honor.
“It was a real shocker when I was told about this,” he said. “It’s absolutely hard to control your emotions. I want to thank the City of Oakdale for this great honor and being up here with these two famous characters sitting behind me.
“It’s good to surround yourself with good people,” he continued. “Be in the good crowd because their talent and personality rubs off on you.”
The youngest honoree, however, was not present to share his wisdom and life reflections with the amphitheater crowd. Instead the audience was treated to a glimpse of who Jason Turnage was through the eyes of his wife Rachel Turnage as she stood flanked by their three children, Taylor, Ethan and Eli.
“If you had the great pleasure of knowing J, you knew that everything he did was epic,” Rachel Turnage said of her late husband, Jason, also known by friends as J or Big J.
“Big J was passionate about his extreme life and he would stop at nothing to pursue it. In 2012 Jason raised his white flag and lost his battle,” she continued of her husband’s four-year battle with cancer. “Yet today I know without a doubt his bright, beautiful smile shines down on this park and if he were here he’d definitely be shredding it.”
The park is designed to provide enjoyment for the community for years to come.
“I hope this park is a reminder to all of us to never grow up,” Turnage stated. “I hope it’s a place where our youth can shred, play and enjoy the outside. Our family is incredibly honored to have Big J’s legacy live on through this beautiful park and as Big J would say… stay rad and go shred Oakdale.”
In addition to the speeches, organizers packed the day full of events which maintained a crowd well into the evening. Entertainment continued to grace the amphitheater stage, a skate demo was hosted in the skate park and the day concluded with a Movie Under the Stars, a showing of Beauty and the Beast.
Oakdale Community Park is a gated facility; park hours are daylight until 10 p.m.
The crowd rushed in all directions as the Oakdale Community Park gates were officially opened for the first time on Saturday, Sept. 16 just after 11 a.m. The state grant-funded park hosts varying areas which include: an amphitheater, playground, skate park, basketball court and agility course. See additional photos, Page A4.
Oakies Board Shop owner Cryndee Dermond lived a dream come true on Saturday, Sept. 16 placing herself in the middle of the fun on wheels and amongst her favorite extremists.
An Oakdale High School as well as community legacy represented by three men as they waited to receive their honors during the Saturday ceremony, from left, Ron Quintanal, Norm Antinetti and Jack Walker.