Ed. note: Author knows Robi Haas personally. He did not know Karafa and has no affiliation with the Triangle Skateboard Alliance.
JAMES CITY — Music and the unmistakable clatter of wheels on pavement will populate the small skate park on Longhill Road on Sunday as local skaters gather for the 10th annual TK Skate Day.
While the main event is a skateboarding competition — entry fee $5 — friendly to all skill levels and boasting cash prizes, the day will also celebrate the life of Tommy Karafa, who died in a car accident in 2008, along with his friend Robbie McCormick.
Although it is simply called “skate park” on the James City County website, local skaters lovingly refer to the facility as “Rec.” Karafa spent much of his time at the park, where he met some of his closest friends, according to those who still gather to remember him 10 years later.
“After getting to know him more and more, as he got older and progressed, I knew he was special,” event organizer Robbi Haas said. “He was highly motivated and just a great dude.”
Haas said skateboarding was integral to Karafa’s life, and it is still integral to the lives of many in the Williamsburg region. Haas finds proof of this concept in the recent formation of Triangle Skateboard Alliance, a nonprofit that joined the effort of hosting TK Skate Day.
TSA takes a unique approach to skateboarding advocacy: They work with local government to build new skateparks and keep current ones maintained. The group does so with a sharp affinity for community betterment, hoping to remove the stigma sometimes associated with the skateboarding.
“We’ve raised hundreds of pounds of food at a competition, and are collecting school supplies at an upcoming event in August in Gloucester,” TSA President Max Pfannebecker said. “We hosted spring cleanup day at JCC Rec.”
This year, TSA partnered with TK Skate Day to help with logistical tasks such acquiring permits so Karafa’s friends can focus their energy on making the event the best it can be.
TK Skate Day competition begins at 11 a.m. Sunday at the James City County skate park, 5301 Longhill Road.
“I’m so glad that we still do this and celebrate his life,” Haas said. “I hope we’re still doing this 10 years from now.”