City En­joys Cel­e­bra­tion As Com­mu­nity Park Opens

The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By TERESA HAMMOND tham­mond@oak­dale­leader.com

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.

TERESA HAMMOND/THE LEADER

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.

TERESA HAMMOND/THE LEADER

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.

TERESA HAMMOND/ THE LEADER

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.

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