Sled Away, Kids!

Sometimes government regulations make you shake your head in wonder.  So it is with the ban on sledding on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

People can freely walk on the grounds of the Capitol, so security can’t be the reason for banning sledding.  Instead, Capitol Police justified the ban by citing statistics that there are more than 20,000 sledding injuries in America each year — a rationale which would justify banning sledding everywhere.  Do the Capitol Police really think we’ll buy the notion that they did some analysis of sledding injuries before deciding to impose a silly ban on an age-old winter activity?  I suspect that the real reason for the sledding ban is that some crusty old members of Congress didn’t like the sound and commotion of kids having fun on one of the rare days when the District of Columbia gets enough snow to make sledding feasible and told the Police to do whatever they needed to stop it.

I’m glad that parents and kids went sledding in defiance of the idiotic ban, which should never have been imposed in the first place and is just another example of unnecessary government overreach.  The Capitol is our building; our elected representatives just work there.  So long as security isn’t impaired, we should be permitted to use the grounds for leisure activities like sledding or playing frisbee.  And parents — not the Capitol Police —  should making the decisions about the safety of their kids’ activities.

So sled away, kids!  And learn that sometimes you need to stand up — or sled down — for your rights.

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Sledding New Albany — 2014

IMG_5888I’m guessing that if you polled the kids of New Albany, they’d be virtually unanimous in saying that this has been the best winter for sledding in a long, long time. We’ve had lots of snow and cold temperatures that keep the snow on the ground and icy — perfect for creating sledding runs on the hill behind number one North. When I walked past the hill yesterday, it was packed with kids, Moms, and Dads, and they were having a blast.

As I trudged by, I heard the familiar Dad’s cry echoing from the top of the hill: “Chris! I told you — walk up the side of the hill!”

At The Old Sledding Hill

Today is a perfect day for sledding in New Albany.

IMG_5530The temperature is in the low 20s, the sky is cloudy, and snowflakes are drifting down on the existing snow cover.  That means there will be a base of packed down snow sufficient to bear the weight of even a Flexible Flyer sled, with a dusting of new snow that will minimize friction and enhance speed.  The weather conditions mean there won’t be high temperatures or sunshine to turn the snow mushy.

People have recognized the prime conditions, and the sledding hill next to number 1 North at the New Albany Country Club already has a good crowd.  It’s a fine hill for sledding.  There’s a gentle slope, so it’s not a terrible chore to trudge back up to the top after a sled run, and there’s a nice long run out to let you really enjoy a good sled ride.

It’s nice to see that saucer sleds remain a perennial favorite for kids.  Some classics just can’t be improved upon, and the saucer sled is one of them.

Sledding Debris

IMG_2814One of the prime sledding hills in New Albany near Club Drive, next to the tee of number one North, has been getting a workout.  There’s lots of snow on the ground, and it’s been packed down to a hard consistency.  The hill isn’t too high, but just high enough to achieve significant, uncontrolled velocity as the sledder pushes off at the peak and then goes rocketing down the slope and ultimately knocks into the fence so far below.

Of course, the combination of the occasional collision with the body heat generated by overbundled kids constantly trudging up the slippery slope means we’ll see sledding debris — and we do.  Bits of cheap plastic sled that have cracked in the cold and broken off, a scarf removed, placed on a fence, and then promptly forgotten, and especially wool hats that little boys take off when they get overheated and leave on the hill with a shrug.

When the owner of this kid’s stocking cap went home, his aggravated Mom undoubtedly noticed his hat was missing, and wondered:  How in the heck can you forget about your winter hat when it’s 25 degrees out?  Those of us who once were little boys on a sledding hill remember, and know well the answer to that question.

Sledding New Albany, 2011

The conditions were perfect for sledding in New Albany today.  It was cold enough to keep the snow from melting, but sunny enough to keep the temperature at a reasonable level.  By the time I got to the sledding hill behind the tee on number one North, only a few intrepid sledders remained.  Even though most of the sledders had left for the day, they had left their tracks — literally — in the hard packed snow, and the vista was striking in the light of the setting sun.

Edited to add:  Our blogging service indicates that people may be running searches trying to find the sledding hill.  For those who are looking, it is near the intersection of Rt. 62 and Greensward Lane in New Albany, Ohio, just across Greensward Lane from the New Albany County Club.  You can actually park right next to the sledding hill.

New Albany Sledding

Yesterday I went for an afternoon walk and saw quite a sledding exhibition.  It occurred on the hill behind the first tee on the North nine at New Albany Country Club.  It is a good sized hill, not too steep but with a long incline.  Conditions were excellent for sledding, with firmly packed snow underneath, a light dusting of new flakes drifting lazily down, and temperatures in the 20s. 

I would guess that 20 to 30 people of all ages were sledding when I happened by.  The hill featured just about every imaginable kind of sledding device, including toboggans, saucers, metal disks, molded plastic sleds, flat sheets of plastic, snowboards, sit skis, and Flexible Flyers.  (For my money, the best sled for such conditions is a vintage Flexible Flyer, with the runners coated with candle wax  or a non-stick spray.  When the snow is well packed and able to bear the weight of the Flyer’s metal runners, you can fly down hills and steer, besides.) 

Parents were perched atop the hill, where they would give their kids a push and then jog down the slope to help the kids lug the sleds back up to the top.  The kids were dressed in a riotous display of winter gear.  I saw fur-lined hoods, snowsuits, goggles, elbow-length gloves, long stocking caps, ski wear, and colorful scarves.  As the kids skimmed down the hill and tumbled into the snow at the bottom, their shrieks of delight filled the air.

Sledding conditions can change quickly, and optimum conditions don’t come very often.  Yesterday, the conditions were just about perfect.