Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

October 28, 2013

Northern Notes: Girl knows how to get things done

Helen Erginkara, known in her hometown of Frankfort as “The Playground Girl,” knows how to get things done.

Helen set her goal high when she headed up the fundraising campaign and park development for the $130,000 Children’s Playground at Frankfort’s Mineral Park when she was 11 years old. Now she has her sights set at raising $23,000 for skateboard and longboard terrain features in Frankfort. That goal doesn’t faze her at all, especially at the ripe old age of 12.

“I started longboarding three summers ago at the Elberta Summer Solstice Festival,” Helen said. “I fell in love with it. I love the feeling of freedom it gives me. There are a lot of people, kids and adults, who longboard here in Frankfort. It would be nice to have some skatepark features for them to ride on, a place to get together and play with friends.”

Helen already proposed the idea to a receptive city council and is looking at skate park manufacturers and potential sites within the city.

“Market Square Park is definitely high on the list of sites the city is considering,” said Frankfort City Manager Josh Mills. “We already own the property, it’s lighted, there’s lots of parking and there’s other recreational equipment on site for the whole family to play there.”

Helen started raising money for the Frankfort skate park when she talked the owners of Frankfort’s Beachnut Surf Shop into hosting a longboard event on the street beside their building this summer. With help from longboarding friends Santiago Nelson, age 11, of Austin, Texas, and Annie Hessler, age 12, of Frankfort, Helen held a longboard demo and tune-up clinic. Participants smiled, enjoyed riding, opened their wallets and donated generously — to the tune of $200.

“The features we’re considering will cost about $23,000,” Mills said. “With the ambition and enthusiasm of Helen, Annie and Santiago in the mix, it won’t take long for Frankfort’s skateboard/longboard park to become another attractive feature in this little gem of a city.”

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