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Skateoboarders to show their street smarts

Outside the world of skateboarding, few know the name or face of Tony Hawk.

But those in the sport know him so well that his face doesn't even appear on a flier promoting Wednesday's skateboard exhibition at Evans Park in Seffner. As part of the Birdhouse Freaks of Nature Summer Tour, which begins at 5 p.m., Hawk and other well-known skateboarders have pictures of human oddities on the flier.

Among the pictures are a man smashing a stack of boards with his head, and another stretching his cheeks to grotesque lengths.

"It's just a joke," said Tom Drake, tour coordinator. "It's just sarcasm. In skateboarding, in general, there's a lot of humor involved. Most of the people in skateboarding know who the riders are."

The people in skateboarding have reason to be excited about this lineup, which includes Hawk, Matt Beach, Ocean Howell and Willy Santos. Drake said the exhibition will focus on street skating: tricks involving curbs, benches, banks, etc. It's designed to promote the sport as well as the products distributed by Birdhouse.

"It (the popularity) has gone in cycles," Drake said. "Right now, it's slowly on the rise again. Kids are reaching an age where they're accessible to the sport. Hopefully by 1995 it will return to where it was in 1985-88."

Hawk is definitely considered the best of the group, according to Dave Laytart, who manages Evans Park and the Cove Skate & Surf Shop.

"He's the Michael Jordan of skateboarding," Laytart said. "He's been the top skateboarder for several years. He's outstanding."

Laytart also is excited about the addition of local amateur skateboarder Andrew Reynolds, who will join the tour when it arrives Wednesday and continue to travel with the group up the Eastern Seaboard. Reynolds is from Lakeland, but competes with Laytart's skateboarding team.

Fans will be asked to make donations to help maintain and improve Evans Park, the only county-approved skateboard facility in the area. The facility is managed by the non-profit Florida Skateboard Association and its survival is dependant upon donations by the skateboarders and community.

"The improvements have been on-going," said Laytart, whose goal of building a skateboard park in Hillsborough County came true two years ago. "Right now we're trying to get lighting at the park. Everything we've done there has been strictly by donations."