DC skateboarder finds a souvenir from his icon, Tony Hawk

D.C. native Sinquan Bangbeor poses with famed skateboarder Tony Hawk at the Shaw Skate Park in Northwest. (Courtesy Sinquan Bangbeor)

Celebrity skateboarder Tony Hawk tried out the newly-renovated Shaw Skate Park in Northwest D.C. on Sunday — and left behind a souvenir for one lucky local fan.

On his Instagram page, Hawk — who owns a skateboard company called Birdhouse — posted a video of him putting a skateboard through the gates of the Shaw State Park with the message: “The early bird gets the Birdhouse. Reply with the hashtag I wrote on the nose if you find it. Happy hunting.”

Skateboarder Sinquan Bangbeor wasted no time.

An early riser, he was on his way to the Giant grocery store a few blocks from his house in D.C. on Monday when he caught a glimpse of Hawk’s Instagram post.

“I dropped everything and I got my cruise and I just skated as fast as I can,” Bangbeor told WTOP.

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation posted a tweet about the skateboard that Tony Hawk left for fans at the Shaw Skate Park. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy DC Parks & Rec via Twitter)

He found the skateboard and used the hashtag to let the social media world it was his.

So will Bangbeor, who has been skating for about 15 years, start using his new board?

“Oh no, ma’am! No, no, no. That’s in the house,” he replied. “I might buy a case for it soon. That’s about to be on my wall. That’s not going anywhere. I’m keeping it for life.”

Bangbeor, who was born in D.C. and turns 27 next week, began skating when he was 12 years old. He said skateboarding has had a huge impact on his life.

“It kept me out of trouble. It made me stay away from bad people. It motivated me more — just to do it every single day, get excited to learn a new trick, just for the love of it,” said Bangbeor, who works at Crushed Skate Shop on U Street in Northwest.

Hawk has also been a big source of motivation for him. Although he retired from professional competition in 2003, Hawk, 53, is still one of the most recognized skateboarders in the world. He has various skateboarding-related business ventures, including a series of video games, as well as a philanthropic foundation that builds skate parks in underserved communities.

Bangbeor said he first saw Hawk in person in 2013, when Hawk was in town to donate his first skateboard to the National Museum of American History.

“I actually heard how he fell in love with skateboarding and, like, his lifestyle, and basically, you know, I fell in love with it 10 times more because I’m looking at my idol,” Bangbeor recalled.

When he again saw Hawk, this time at the Shaw Skate Park on Sunday, Bangbeor said he was hesitant at first to approach him, not wanting to encroach on his personal space “because he was skating, he was having fun, and I just wanted him to get a feel for the skate park.”

Eventually, though, Bangbeor did walk up to his idol.

“And I told him straight up, like, you saved my life dude. I had to tell him that. It was like a big smile that ran to his face and he shook my hand and I did not want to let go,” Bangbeor laughed. “He just told me to keep at it and he thanked me for approaching him.”

Bangbeor said he has tremendous respect for Hawk because of the way he treats fans.

And that fan base includes all ages. “I sell boards to younger people, to older people,” Bangbeor said of his job. But seeing young children try out skateboarding is especially meaningful for Bangbeor, because he said once they start, they won’t stop.

“You will definitely fall in love with it. It’s like a drug,” he said. “I don’t think of skateboarding as a sport … I look at it as an art because, you know, everybody’s got their own different ways when it comes to skateboarding.”

Bangbeor said the skateboard scene in D.C. continues to grow, as seen by the popularity of the renovated Shaw Skate Park. “You see new kids coming downtown every single year …. Everybody is getting into it, feeling the love for it and being really supportive.”

His advice to newcomers?

“Never give up. Never give up. That’s the main key. Never give up. Always practice, motivate yourself, stay healthy, and more practice,” he said. “If I can do it, you can, so just be yourself.”

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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