Hundreds of skateboarders cruised, spun and cut down Venice Boulevard on Sunday morning in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest skateboarding parade.
Organizers estimated that about 500 skateboarders hit the street. If the result holds, Venice smashed the previous record of 341 held by Marquette, MI.
At the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Venice Boulevard around 10 a.m., a roaring chant of “Venice, Venice,” rose up from a street packed with skateboarders.
Boards were lifted into the air and cheers erupted from the crowd.
“This is a great day for Venice,” yelled out Steve Mayorga, a board member of the Venice Surf and Skate Association.
About the record itself he said, "I think we've got that covered."
The Venice Surf and Skate Association partnered with the Venice Centennial Committee to organize the parade. Planning for the Venice Centennial began two years ago.
Around then, committee member and 1972 Venice High graduate Carol Gaudiano Maher remembers watching a family friend skateboard down the street.
“Wouldn’t it be neat if we had skateboarders in the parade?” Maher said she thought at the time.
Soon the concept evolved into a full-blown effort to break a world record. Plenty of people were indignant that Venice did not already hold the record.
"Michigan is not known for skateboarding," said Venice resident Anton Magmlic.
Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and Culver City Mayor Michael O’Leary rode in the parade and served as impartial judges and witnesses. Bloom and O’Leary stood onstage after the parade and announced that Venice had appeared to have broken the record.
A gathering of skateboarders started at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. As of 9 a.m., an hour before the procession was to start, only about 200 people had showed up.
"They're skateboarders," said committee member Mollie Wine. "They're late."
A pink chalk line drawn on the parking lot surface demonstrated the 6-foot length that skateboards could not exceed between one another. Wine, 1978 Venice High graduate and self-described "lady with the rules," brandished a list.
“Rule No. 1: You have to know how to skateboard,” she read.
Both longtime and brand-new skateboarders turned out for the high-energy event. Valencia resident Gale Corpash came with her husband Randy and their two children. Gale and Randy both grew up in Venice, attending Culver City High School and Venice High, respectively.
Both remember going to the skate park as kids. The atmosphere preceding the parade felt like a reunion of old classmates, Corpash said.
Corpash bought the same skateboard model for her 9-year-old son Jared that she used when she was his age.
“We wanted to come back down to where we lived and grew up,” Corpash said as her 8-year-old daughter Carli asked whether she was going to have to be towed with a rope.
After the mass of boarders took off from the corner of Venice and Pacific, initial disorder turned into a lengthy but enjoyable ride.
“Everyone started all squished and tripping and falling over each other, but then [it spread out],” said recent Venice High graduate Brooks Resnick. “Going around the school, it was all fun.”
Out-of-breath and sweaty skateboarders finished up by cruising into the back of Venice High School to turn in wristbands and join the Venice Centennial celebration taking place in the front of the school.
The distance and the road condition took a toll on some riders. Nikki Ramirez of Santa Monica said the rough pavement of the street made the course much more difficult than she had anticipated.
"It was really fun ... [but] I'm more out of shape than I thought!" she said with a laugh.