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The Bay celebrates skating, inspiring youth at annual festival

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Hudson Le lugged his skateboard through the Railyard Sunday evening -- the board nearly matching his height if it weren’t for his black helmet topped with a tall, spiky mohawk.

The skulls on the side, and a black "I SURVIVED THE BAY SKATE SCHOOL" T-shirt were signs the 8-year-old was ready to show his stuff.

Le was one of many skateboarders who came to the Railyard for Sunday's annual Skate Art Music Festival presented by The Bay, a gathering place for young people.

“The main purpose behind the event is in line with what The Bay is all about -- and that’s to inspire kids through skateboarding, music and art,” said Mike Smith, The Bay's founder, creator and CEO. “Lincoln has an amazing art and music scene, so to be able to showcase it down here like this is a really cool thing.”

In additional to live music, the Bay invited 30 of the best skaters from the Midwest to compete along with local entries.

“We have guys who would definitely qualify as professional skateboarders, and then we have guys who are just super passionate, incredibly talented skateboarders,” Smith said. “But it really does run the gamut in age, race, religion -- you kind of get a mix of everything in this culture -- but the one common thing is that everybody loves skateboarding.”

Spencer Murry, 24, has been on a skateboard since junior high, but he's still inspired by youngsters he's met through The Bay. 

"It's really motivating -- seeing younger kids who are just doin' their thing," Murry said. 

With almost as many wheels as feet, the crowd’s love for the sport was lucid, but it was the massive 26-foot-long skateboard mural that had toddlers to adults lined up to make their mark with spray paint. It was an opportunity for kids to do graffiti, legally, Smith said.

The creative outlets The BAY provides for kids are what Le’s mother, Amy, loves about the organization.

“It’s a great place they can go to do their tricks and not get in trouble,” she said. “It’s drug free and has a lot of good role models."

Smith hoped to bring awareness to The Bay’s newest addition -- their coffee bar, opening Monday. By hiring at-risk youth, the coffee shop continues the theme of surrounding young people in Lincoln with positive experiences.

“A lot of these kids could be homeless kids, who are actually working there for us, or girls who have maybe been sexually exploited,” he said. “We like to be that first job for kids who really need it. We’re teaching kids tangible skills that are really relevant today.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or lesparrago@journalstar.com

On Twitter @linds_esparrago

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