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Sanctioned Slope: Kids Take Their Sleds To Capitol Hill, Legally
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Sanctioned Slope: Kids Take Their Sleds To Capitol Hill, Legally

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Sanctioned Slope: Kids Take Their Sleds To Capitol Hill, Legally

Sanctioned Slope: Kids Take Their Sleds To Capitol Hill, Legally
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Up until very recently, sledding on Capitol Hill was illegal. This weekend's snow was the first chance for kids to hit the slope — without fear of arrest.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

But before all this snow gets cleaned up, let's have some fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One, two, three. Hold on tight. Hold on tight.

MARTIN: For Washington, D.C., families with cabin fever, this has been a time to hit the city's most famous slope, Capitol Hill. And for the first time, sledders do not have to worry about being arrested. The House of Representatives side of Capitol Hill was crowded with kids burning off cabin fever energy today, some with real sleds and real strategy, like 8-year-old Hank Dodd and his dad-slash-sledding coach, Randall.

RANDALL DODD: Dude, you got past the tree.

HANK: I know.

DODD: OK. If you aim a little bit better, I think you can hit that guy with the toboggan hat at the bottom of the tree.

HANK: Well, what about the dog?

MARTIN: Others slide down on abandoned protest signs left over from a Friday rally or large Tupperware lids. Anything to get some fresh air, says Tim Krepp.

TIM KREPP: If we're going to be in the house for 72 hours with the kids, we'll go mad. We have to get them outside and do something (laughter). And not just the kids, some of the adults are going mad too (laughter).

MARTIN: At the base of the short hill, Krepp looks over the slightly chaotic scene.

KREPP: Yeah, you know, we were talking about this earlier. It'd be better if we had, like, kind of a up route and a down route so we'd get some good - but you know, it's by definition a bit of an anarchist kind of thing, so...

MARTIN: This year, however, the sledding scene is much less anarchist because up until this year, sledding here was illegal. That never stopped Lyndsay Medsker and her kids, though.

LYNDSAY MEDSKER: Every year, we come out to go sledding when it snows, and every year the - we get about two runs in and the Capitol Hill police kicked us off.

MARTIN: Medsker, Krepp and their neighbors started a petition and organized a sled-in during last year's snowstorm and eventually won a rules-change.

MEDSKER: It took an act of Congress, which is sort of ridiculous, but this year, sledding is legal.

KREPP: The thing is that this is just commonplace now. This is just the neighborhood sledding spot.

MARTIN: And today, with sunshine and two feet of powder, it sure seems like the whole neighborhood is out there.

BRAD GREENBERG: We actually just moved here from New York last summer, and we're relieved to find that this was now a legal sledding option.

MARTIN: Brad Greenberg lives nearby and pulled his 3-year-old song up the street in a bright red plastic sled. It's Benjamin's first time sledding.

BENJAMIN: Dad went with me and he slide down the hill.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: On your mark, get set, go.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Watch out.

MARTIN: It's also a pretty good spectator sport. Terry and Jeff Lewis have lived in the neighborhood for 40 years. They stopped by to watch and reminisce about when their kids used to sneak onto the hill for sledding.

JEFF LEWIS: It's good to get out, walk around, see everybody and watch everybody else have a great time.

TERRY LEWIS: Yeah, used to be able to slide down the steps, too (laughter). It was a long time ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF SURF GUITAR ALL STARS SONG, "HANG TEN")

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After Massive Snowstorm, East Coast Digs Out — And Lives It Up

  • Baltimore residents participate in a snowball fight on Sunday. The storm brought more than 2 feet of snow to Baltimore, according to the Weather Channel.
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    Baltimore residents participate in a snowball fight on Sunday. The storm brought more than 2 feet of snow to Baltimore, according to the Weather Channel.
    Emily Bogle/NPR
  • Sledders take advantage of the snow on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sunday.
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    Sledders take advantage of the snow on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sunday.
    Ariel Zambelich/NPR
  • District resident Sam Carson (right) helps his daughter, Cassidy, 3, build a snowman on the Capitol lawn on Sunday.
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    District resident Sam Carson (right) helps his daughter, Cassidy, 3, build a snowman on the Capitol lawn on Sunday.
    Ariel Zambelich/NPR
  • Children slide in the snow in Central Park in New York on Sunday.
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    Children slide in the snow in Central Park in New York on Sunday.
    Don Emmerg/AFP/Getty Images
  • Sledders take over the Capitol in Washington on Sunday.
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    Sledders take over the Capitol in Washington on Sunday.
    Ariel Zambelich/NPR
  • Snowball fights have become a tradition after every major snow storm in Washington, D.C.
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    Snowball fights have become a tradition after every major snow storm in Washington, D.C.
    Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
  • This year's D.C. snowball fight was dubbed "Snow Wars: The Snowball Strikes Back" on Facebook.
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    This year's D.C. snowball fight was dubbed "Snow Wars: The Snowball Strikes Back" on Facebook.
    Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
  • People sled down an on ramp to I-76 West on Sunday in Philadelphia. Millions of people are digging themselves out after a record snowstorm affected most of the Mid-Atlantic states.
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    People sled down an on ramp to I-76 West on Sunday in Philadelphia. Millions of people are digging themselves out after a record snowstorm affected most of the Mid-Atlantic states.
    Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
  • People ski in New York City's Central Park on Sunday.
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    People ski in New York City's Central Park on Sunday.
    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Local resident Mollie Holleman takes in the sights with her dog, Duncan, near the Capitol in Washington.
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    Local resident Mollie Holleman takes in the sights with her dog, Duncan, near the Capitol in Washington.
    Ariel Zambelich/NPR
  • Snow is mostly cleared from around the Supreme Court.
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    Snow is mostly cleared from around the Supreme Court.
    Ariel Zambelich/NPR

1 of 11

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Shovelful by shovelful, snowplow by snowplow, the East Coast is digging its way out from underneath an enormous winter storm that blanketed much of the region with up to 3 feet of snow.

And as high winds and 36 hours of snow give way to clear skies and sunshine, some people are taking to the wintry landscape with glee.

More and more streets are becoming passable, as snow crews clear the roads — although authorities in many regions still urge caution from drivers.

A woman decorates a snowman in Times Square on Saturday, while all cars but emergency vehicles were banned from driving on the road. The travel ban was lifted Sunday morning. i

A woman decorates a snowman in Times Square on Saturday, while all cars but emergency vehicles were banned from driving on the road. The travel ban was lifted Sunday morning. Yana Paskova/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Yana Paskova/Getty Images
A woman decorates a snowman in Times Square on Saturday, while all cars but emergency vehicles were banned from driving on the road. The travel ban was lifted Sunday morning.

A woman decorates a snowman in Times Square on Saturday, while all cars but emergency vehicles were banned from driving on the road. The travel ban was lifted Sunday morning.

Yana Paskova/Getty Images

New York City's transportation systems are back up and running, for the most part, and a citywide travel ban was lifted at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Broadway shows have resumed. The New York Stock Exchange plans to open on Monday as normal.

Still, the effects of the storm are far from finished. Flights are still being canceled, with the impact stretching into Monday, and some local governments and schools are planning to stay shut one extra day.

Some legislators, meanwhile, are getting a whole week off. The U.S. House of Representatives — which has been adjourned for more than a week, and was due to take up votes again on Tuesday — has canceled votes until Feb. 1 because of the weather, Reuters reports.

A worker cleans the sidewalk along 19th Street in Washington on Sunday. i

A worker cleans the sidewalk along 19th Street in Washington on Sunday. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
A worker cleans the sidewalk along 19th Street in Washington on Sunday.

A worker cleans the sidewalk along 19th Street in Washington on Sunday.

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The storm had many serious consequences — from impaired travel to casualties to the as-yet-untallied cost of coastal flooding.

But it also brought delight: not just to the National Zoo's giant panda but to snow lovers across the region.

The fun started even before the snow stopped — whether it was a pickup game of snow football with D.C. police ...

... Washington-area kids burning off their cabin fever with some (now legal!) sledding on Capitol Hill ...

Sanctioned Slope: Kids Take Their Sleds To Capitol Hill, Legally
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/464201734/464236543" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

... Casey Neistat defying the travel ban in New York City to chase some thrills on a snowboard (with another surprising police appearance) ...

Casey Neistat YouTube

... or a kayak zooming down a road in West Virginia.

This volume of snow is rare for most of the millions of people affected by this storm. That it arrived on a weekend — when even people who don't normally get snow days can enjoy it — is an added perk.

A man walks by the Hudson River Shore in Jersey City, with the New York City skyline behind him, on Sunday. A massive winter storm that lasted a day and a half finally appeared to be winding down Sunday, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin removing — and enjoying — the snow. i

A man walks by the Hudson River Shore in Jersey City, with the New York City skyline behind him, on Sunday. A massive winter storm that lasted a day and a half finally appeared to be winding down Sunday, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin removing — and enjoying — the snow. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks by the Hudson River Shore in Jersey City, with the New York City skyline behind him, on Sunday. A massive winter storm that lasted a day and a half finally appeared to be winding down Sunday, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin removing — and enjoying — the snow.

A man walks by the Hudson River Shore in Jersey City, with the New York City skyline behind him, on Sunday. A massive winter storm that lasted a day and a half finally appeared to be winding down Sunday, giving snowbound residents the chance to begin removing — and enjoying — the snow.

Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

And since the sun came out, the occasion has been marked with snowball fights, skiing and sledding up and down the coast.

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