Snow sledding after Christmas is sort of a holiday tradition around these parts, like shopping is the day after Thanksgiving.
The kids unwrapped their new sleds.
The relatives are visiting from out of town.
Everyone is itching to get out of the house.
But what happens when there’s little or no snow on the ground, and your favorite hill is closed to sledding?
You do what Max Galbraith did on Saturday – you go anyway.
“It was rough,” said Galbraith, 14, who was sledding at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park. “Not much snow.”
Galbraith, who was visiting from Richmond, Va., was among the dozens of people who hit the hill at Chestnut Ridge on Saturday despite the mild and less-than-ideal sledding conditions.
In fact, there was so little snow on the ground, parks workers hung out the “Sled Hill Closed” sign on Saturday morning.
Even that didn’t deter the sledding faithful.
“We actually went to Elma Meadows first,” said Tim Filonczuk of Williamsville, “but that was really closed – just grass.”
As more and more people showed up at Chestnut Ridge with sleds in hand, parks workers let them be as long as the numbers didn’t get out of hand and there were no serious injuries on the hill.
“We already went down about 10 times,” said Barbara Krull of Derby. “You just have to find a patch where there’s a lot of snow – and it’s not muddy.”
Muddy or not, the kids didn’t care.
“Dad, can we go down?” asked Ari Lickfeld, 7, of West Falls.
“No dude, we’re done,” said his father, Eric. “I’m tired.”
Eric, Ari and little brother Mani, 4, had just climbed back up the hill before calling it quits by early Saturday afternoon.
“We got here a couple hours ago,” Lickfeld said, “but with the sun being out and everyone going down, it’s getting grassy.”
The conditions may get a little better for sledding later in the week, while the kids are still off from school.
While the forecast for today is rain and highs in the low 40s, temperatures are expected to dip into the teens by Monday and remain there for the rest of the week, said Shawn Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.
There’s also a chance for lake-effect snow during the week, Smith said, although nothing extreme.
But on Saturday – as the day wore on and temperatures reached a high of 41 degrees – more and more patches of grass peeked through the snow at Chestnut Ridge. The hill turned both icy and muddy.
Kyle Sullivan managed to find a nice spot in the far corner of the hill.
“Over there,” said Kyle, pointing to a patch of snow. “It’s awesome.”
Saturday at Chestnut Ridge was a big deal for Kyle, 10, who was visiting from Columbus, Ga., and had last been sledding when he was only 4 years old.
He would have liked the toboggan chutes to be open, but he had fun, nonetheless.
However, Kyle – tired from climbing back up the sled hill – did have one suggestion to make the whole experience better:
“Put in an escalator,” he said.