BRADENTON -- With a cast on his right arm, Jacob Maxhimer has the unique privilege to say he was the first person to break a bone -- or bones -- at the skate park, part of the much-anticipated Bradenton Riverwalk that opened Thursday.
Maxhimer, 12, broke his hand and wrist, and fractured his arm when he lost his footing while skating after the park's grand opening, but that hasn't stopped him from taking his board back into the concrete jungle Friday, Saturday and "every day 'til I die," he said.
The Riverwalk, spanning a 1.5-mile segment along the Manatee River, was bustling on the first Saturday since its ribbon-cutting.
People of all ages took the opportunity to check out all of the offerings of the $6.2 million project. Families had picnic lunches, couples held hands while taking leisurely strolls with or without their dogs. Joggers
and bicyclists weaved in and out of the walkers.
One of the most popular features, judging by the crowd's squeals and giggles, is the splash park, filled with kids soaked from head to toe.
One of those children was 4-year-old Colleen, who was brought to the park by her grandparents, Patricia and Gary Sheppard, of Bradenton, for some weekend fun.
"It's the greatest -- it's good, quality, family fun," Patricia said. "It's wonderful to see all the children having fun. And, it's a nice stroll for us."
Those looking to stay dry climbed over and under playground obstacles, waiting in line for a turn at the swing.
Shenna Crawford and Yvette Robinson of Palmetto brought five kids, ranging from 3 to 8, to the Riverwalk Saturday.
"It feels good to know there's somewhere the kids are safe and can enjoy themselves with so many other kids to play with," Crawford said, attributing some of that to the visibility of Bradenton police officers patrolling the area.
Crawford first visited the Riverwalk Friday night for a free, outdoor movie screening, while Robinson waited until Saturday to check out the riverside features.
"I was looking forward to it, but I didn't know the details of it," Robinson said. "I've been watching it from the bridge. It's a lot different. I remember when this was nothing but woods."
Further down the walk, lines and nets were cast over the edge of the fishing pier, while others gathered at the Mosaic Amphitheater for a fishing class hosted by Discount Tackle Outlet.
Back at the skate park, people rode scooters, skateboards, BMX bikes and roller blades.
Impressed onlookers talked among themselves as those with high expertise showed off airborne tricks.
Holly Ryan and her husband, Justin, drove from Brandon Thursday and again Saturday to skate the bowl.
"It's better than a lot of the parks I've been to," Ryan said. "Brandon's bowl is good, but it's too big. I like the street elements in the skate park, too."
Ryan, 34, said the helmet-optional rule will draw people to the park.
"Helmets are great, but at our age, that's our decision," she said.
Many people, especially the younger ones, were equipped with helmets, as well as elbow and knee pads.
"Skateboarding is a lifestyle," said Ryan, who started when she was 12. "It's great to see the different ages together. Any time, no matter the age, people will ask how do you do this or that. A lot of times I'm asking little kids how they do something."
Maxhimer, who began skating when he was 4, is ready to learn some new tricks, but plans on "trying to take it easy" until his broken bones heal.
Until then, he will be the skateboarder wearing the cast and enjoying all the new Riverwalk has to offer.
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.