words and photos: T. Bird

Last weekend, Vans was kind enough to fly me and SNOWBOARDER Video Production Manager John Cavan out to New York City to celebrate two decades of Vans Snowboarding. With “Off The Wall” on the snow, Vans has pioneered both how a snowboard boot should ride and who should ride them. Vans’ innovations in boot technology have been leading the market for twenty years, but it’s also the team that they have hand-selected over the years that has engrained Vans as a core darling to the masses. In the early days came Jamie Lynn, Circe Wallace, Shaun Palmer, Tara Dakides and other legends. From there, Vans added to their already burgeoning list of icons by signing riders like Darrell Mathes, Andreas Wiig, Hana Beaman, and Mark Landvik, and recently, the footwear giant picked up Pat Moore and Leanne Pelosi, further strengthening their squad.

With their 20th anniversary party in New York City, Vans wanted to tip their cap not only to the snowboarders who have flown their flag for years but also the consumers and retailers responsible for the need to re-stock their product across the world. We flew into LaGuardia airport Wednesday evening and were immediately whisked away from our first class digs at the King and Grove in Williamsburg and brought to Fette Sau, one of the best barbecue joints not only in Brooklyn, but in the country. After taking down half a cow and whiskey that was from the Prohibition era (no joke), the crew hit the town for a long, sleepless, and incredibly fun night in NYC.

The following morning started groggily as we packed into what Snow Marketing Manager Kevin Casillo called a “party bus” and toured the city with stops at key retailers like Blades and the DQM store that houses limited edition and incredibly rad Vans shoes, hats, shirts, flannels, boots, and more. A quick stop by the skatepark earlier in the day revamped everyone’s stoke and then we went to check out the Vans showroom to view the new boot line which is nothing short of the standard that Vans set years ago and continues to raise. We went back to the King and Grove to recharge the batteries and then ended the night (and entered the early morning) at The House of Vans, a venue unparalleled to many that I’ve attended prior.

On top of Pat Moore, Leanne Pelosi, Hana Beaman, Benji Ritchie, Jamie Lynn, Zac Marben, Phil Jacques, Will Lavigne, Mark Landvik, Arthur Longo, Darrell Mathes, Iouri Podladtchikov, Andreas Wiig, and Eric Willett flying out for the event, Vans took it one step further and gave Jamie, Darrell, and Marben the opportunity to showcase their off-hill talents as well. On display were about a dozen pieces of Jamie’s art pieces, of which the crowd was stunned to see firsthand, as well as photos from Darrell Mathes that he had printed out, blown up, and poured a smooth sheen of epoxy upon. Marben had three pieces of art that he painted as well, and interspersed with these was a collection Vans’ new gear for the 2013/’14 winter.

Out back were two food trucks–one, grilled cheese and one, tacos–for the hungry crowd, and inside the warehouse, Jamie Lynn and Zac Marben took the stage to jam out for about twenty minutes and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long, long time. Truly legendary. After Jamie and Marben played, Vans treated us to a twenty-year retrospective directed and edited by the infamous and iconic Mike Hatchett of Standard Films fame. The film was a look back and forward to twenty years of Vans Snowboarding and left the viewer not only informed about the brand’s ideology but also with a better understanding of our culture as a whole, and that to me is the most important aspect that any snowboard movie can get across. Kudos, Vans. To end the night, King Tuff played for the hundreds that had packed into House of Vans and if we’re being totally honest here, the night got a tad blurry after that as everyone funneled out of the venue and out into the nightlife of The City That Never Sleeps.

I would like to personally thank Peter Dericks, Kevin Casillo, Kathy Miranda, Kelly Meidroth, Kurt Soho, Chopper Dave, John Wilber, and the rest of the Vans foot soldiers for putting on an incredibly entertaining, informative, and ridiculously fun trip to New York City. Be sure to check out the upcoming episode of SNOWBOARDER Video Magazine right here on snowboardermag.com for the video recap, and here’s to twenty years of Vans Snowboarding. Hopefully, I’ll be around for the 40th! Cheers, guys!