Pipes Skatepark Seventh Anniversary

Seven is belie7ed to be an auspicious number in many spirtual, literary and historic traditions. Seven is also considered a magical number. There are seven pillars of wisdom, seven virtues, seven chakras, and of course seven wonders of the ancient world, among many other magnificent connotations. There’s nothing like Lucky Seven.

The seven referenced here is Pipes Skatepark Seventh Anniversary party and the skate contests that went down at Pipes, in the east suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA.

Bill Esch working the pro shop at Pipes Seventh

Pipes is owned and operated by Bill, Sandy, Billy, Alex and Brian Esch– with Buddy the park dog. Pipes celebrated its seventh anniversary on Saturday, September 18, 2010 with plenty of Vitamin Water, prizes, and barbeque.

Why is it important that there is an indoor skatepark in the east suburbs of Pittsburgh? Well I’ll take a risk and give the “when I was a kid”  old-timer’s angle: For those of us old enough to remember trying to carve out spaces to skate in the seventies, through the proliferation of tennis courts, a place like Pipes was only…well, a pipedream. We had to be content to bomb hills and ride at playgrounds while we looked at images in SkateBoarder mag of kids in Florida and California gliding in empty pools. We knew there would never be anything like that in Pittsburgh, so we drooled at the photos of kids skating the pools and shredding the huge pipes out in the Arizona desert, enjoying the magazine’s occasional acknowledgement that people actually were skating on the east coast. 

 Bill Esch was living in Anaheim at that time, at the epicenter of the nascent skate culture. Pipes wasn’t yet a twinkle in his eye, but he carried some of that juju with him when he came to the ‘Burgh years later. In the 90s he helped out at the Pittsburgh skate mecca Shady Skates and saw that place through five different owners until its demise. Recently, the Esch crew worked with locals to help Peach Plaza in Greensburg become a reality in December 2007.

Skaters today get to enjoy Pipes and other indoor and outdoor skateparks because people cut a path through the jungle of redtape and bureaucratic bs to make skateparks a reality. In today’s climate of rigorous insurance compliance where swimming pools have removed diving boards because of the liability issues, it’s kind of miraculous that skateparks are thriving at all. Truth is, the insurance companies are examining skateboarding injuries and creating actuary tables to help  formulate more accurate insurance rates for skateparks; they are finding that kids are experiencing a greater rate of injury playing soccer. Go figure.

Anyone who has spent any amount of  time at Pipes knows that the Esch family is doing it for the cause. There has to be a place to ride when the weather isn’t fair– which happens in Pittsburgh. There also has to be a place to go to skate with others who are into skating; frequently skateparks attract other unsavory or unmotivated (ahem!) clientele that can be a nuisance to hard-core riders. Sure, it’s a business but it’s not all about ego and the bottom line. Pipes does a lot to help out skaters and their families and  has survived good times and lean times. Heck, Pipes even provides skate teams who demo there a comfy, laid-back place to stay if needed!

Sandy Esch (hey, that's Mrs. Esch to you!) and Buddy

Skaters today might sometimes take the parks for granted and that could have grave consequences. Yeah, the East Coast now has a swagger all its own and nobody has to live in Cali or Florida to get noticed. Skateparks and the internet have changed all that. Pittsburgh skaters now enjoy the dilemma of where to skate. Fortunately Pipes is an option for them.

So when it all shook out on September 18, here’s who won the contests:

Pipes Skatepark Seventh Anniversary Contest Results:

Game of Sk8

  • Beginner: Lee Dixon
  • Intermediate: Ryan Herda
  • Advanced: Devon McGill

Highest Ollie: Rich

Mini Ramp Contest


  •  First Place – Connor Bozik
  • Second Place – Lee Dixon 
  • Third Place – Zack Lander
  • Fourth Place- Nick O’Brien


  • First Place – Jason Tsounos
  • Second Place –Will O’Donnell
  • Third Place – Jake Morgan


  • First Place – Shean Roche
  • Second Place – Ryan Herda
  • Third Place (Tie) – Jason Kurtiak/Dewie Kang 

Yes, I mentioned Fourth Place in Beginners for Mini-Ramp, because Nick, along with Shean and Devon were among the few Pittsburghers who represented at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour this summer.

Alex presiding over the Mini Ramp at Pipes Seventh

Pipes (and friends) did some serious revamping of the park recently, including cutting the 5′ wedge ramp in half to match the top of the pyramid for a nice euro. The previous incarnation of the wedge was too crude and didn’t allow enough time to adjust to set up for the next course features. There’s also a new transition at the bottom of the wedge and as time goes on, new things will continue to evolve and be added to the park, so stay tuned and stop by the park to check it out!

Sandy Esch was hyped that the park came together so well in time for the anniversary, “It was a really big push, especially this week, to get it all done but it was worth it.”  The consensus of the skaters is: “It’s sick!”

Also, remember Pipes has a killer pro shop and will help set you up right with a whole lot of gear: decks, trucks, wheels, and all sorts of other goodies. You can take a break, relax on a sofa and play a video game. If you’re hungry, they have snacks that won’t break your budget (or anything else, for that matter).

Brian takes five at Pipes Seventh

Inside Pipes Skatepark

Yeah yeah yeah, critics might whine, “The ceilings are low” – but hey, if the Esch dudes who are all over 6′ tall can skate it, well then so can you! So kwitcherbitchin’!

Pipes is located at 5529 Old William Penn Highway in Export (just off Rt 22 at Cozy Inn exit)


They will be having Halloween festivities, too so check it out!


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