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

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") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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