Local skateboarders spend the day doing interviews, seeing sights

Published: 7/9/2008 12:04 AM

When they finally arrived in New York's Times Square around midnight Monday, Arthur Swidzinski and Mike Kosciesza stepped off their skateboards and looked up at the massive buildings and flashing advertisements around them.

After congratulatory hugs, the gravity of the moment sank in.

"I said, 'I can't believe we did it, dude. I can't believe this all went down,'" said Kosciesza, 20, of Niles, the day after he and Swidzinski completed a 36-day, 900-mile ride from Chicago to New York City on skateboards. "I can't even describe the feeling. It was so surreal."

The skateboarders were accompanied on their journey by fellow Maine East High School classmates James Lagen of Des Plaines and Tony Michael of Park Ridge, who rode along on bicycles and filmed the adventure for a documentary titled "Shred America."

The exhausted foursome, who for the past month have camped out or crashed on friends' couches, went to bed at 3 a.m. in a hotel room provided by Good Morning America (they're scheduled to appear on the show this morning). The phone rang in their hotel room at 6 a.m. - it was WOR Newstalk Radio in New York - and began a day filled with media interviews with everyone from the New York Post to the Niles Bugle.

They did manage to squeeze in a trip to Central Park to see Strawberry Fields. They walked.

Kosciesza also bought a bunch of "I (heart) New York" T-shirts for his friends.

The Shred America team plans to hang around New York for a few more days - none of them have been there before - and then take a train back to Chicago Saturday.

"We miss Chicago so much. We miss our friends and our skate park," Kosciesza said, "but this has been the most amazing month."