A grand idea which is properly executed will always be remembered. It has legs. Longevity. Such is the case with Pastor Eddie Elguera’s brainchild the – El Gato Classic. We just departed the desert after a weekend of legendary skateboarding, fun, food and friends. This was the fourth installment and reportedly the last. Each year was filled to overflowing with daily events and craziness in one form or another. The Rock Church (Pastor Eddie presiding) in Coachella Valley consists of some rather amazing people. I know because I’ve met a fair amount of them over the last few years. The church members volunteer and help at each El Gato Classic. They put their money where their mouth is… courage of conviction. Real people. I find it interesting that Eddie has the most skateboard savvy parishioners on the entire planet. “Christian Hosoi? Steve Alba? Steve Caballero? We got that…!” They give of themselves and carry it off with polite, calm integrity. Eddie Elguera knows how to organize and throw a party. This year was no exception. Honor the past. Champion the future. This has been his mantra… his mandate these past four years. He’s developed and completed four amazing events since its inception.
This year he had a book signing and photographic display of William Sharp’s work from the Back In The Day book project. Back In The Day features photographs that legendary skateboarding photographer William Sharp shot in the early years of skateboarding. The images cover 1975-1980. People mingled and took in the photos on display. Books were sold and signatures were being inked all night long as legendary skateboarders filled the building.
Some folks realize the gifts they’ve been given. Robert Vargas is one of these. He could be the greatest phone repair guy on the planet but the world is a better place with him doing that thing he does. A true artist. Robert Vargas came to the event and displayed his near-magical abilities with some rather amazing portraits while we stood watching in awe.
A legends Forum was held and David Hackett, Jay Smith, Rick Blackhart, Arthur Viecco and many others were questioned at length regarding the past and their place in it. There was a great deal of laughter and storytelling… You could feel the stoke in the room.
Saturday brought out the legends. The skatepark was overrun by some of the greatest skateboarders the world has ever seen. They were special then and they are special now. Legends lined up around the bowl and flow area to skate for the crowd of excited onlookers, family and fans.There were quite a number of catcalls and people being put on blast… but all in fun.
Contests were held through the afternoon and prizes awarded. While we were all watching the ripping going on by Brad McClain, Tristan Rennie, Josh Rodriguez and Trey Wood… Clay Kreiner must have fallen out of a passing airplane and landed in the middle of the session. This promptly earned him a first place finish. Julie Kinstrand smashed every wall for a top slot for the ladies and Tate Carew punched the park in the nose for a grom win.
Later after dark, everyone gathered to hear music from One Less Zero and His Eyes Have Fangs. The entire event was an absolute knockout and all I ever saw were happy faces, legends at every turn and honor and respect placed upon all. Eddie Elguera said, “Honor the past. Champion the future.” We did exactly that.
Thank you to Eddie Elguera, Dawna Elguera and The Rock Church for everything. Thank you to the Palm Springs community for having us all. Thank you to William Sharp for putting up with me and allowing me the space to do what I think is right. Thank you to Orlando Welsh, Glenn Miyoda and William Sharp for the images.