Snow Brings Sledders to Willow Stream Park

"Anxious" kids hit the slopes on sleds, snowboards.

The real arrival of winter in Buffalo Grove, heralded by six inches of snow and single digit temperatures, made 's a popular hangout this weekend.

About a dozen children, many of them bundled in heavy coats, hats and scarves, along with their parents, braved 20-degree temperatures and cloudy skies Saturday morning to get the true taste of winter 2012.

They raced down the hill on plastic sled and snowboards, squealing in delight as they either made it safely down the hill or ended up in a heap at the bottom.

“They’ve been waiting to get out into the snow,” said Jeff Pease of Buffalo Grove, as his daughter Elli, 8, son Jarrett, 11 and his friend, Timmy Spaeth, also 11, rode snowboards and a plastic sled. “They were anxious. They were out there three hours after the snow came on Thursday, snowboarding and playing.”

Looking a bit tired, but enjoying the weather, Jeff reclined in the snow while Elli headed downhill on a sled.

Pointing to a thermos full of hot chocolate, he noted the kids came well prepared for a long day outside,

Between trips downhill, Jarrett said snowboarding “was just fun” and isn’t that hard, “once you get the hang of it.”

Amanda and Richard McConnell, and their boys, Ryan, 4, and Cameron, 2, were getting the hang of their first Chicago-area winter after moving here from Ireland in July.

“The boys are really excited,” said Richard, a graduate student at Trinity College in Deerfield. “We heard there’s a sledding hill here.”

They said they are not bothered by the cold weather and snow.

“People often groan when they hear the word snow,” Richard said. “But we don’t have that experience. All we get in Ireland is rain. So this is good stuff.”

“We love it,” said Amanda, who took turns with her husband riding down the hill with their kids on a sled while the other parent ran the video recorder. “We’ve been out playing in it.”

In addition to the Willow Stream sled hill, the operates three outdoor skating rinks, one each at , and .

But because of the warmer-than-usual weather, there was no time to build the facilities and put down a layer of ice, a park district employee said. According to the park district's website, it's unlikely the rinks will be open this month.

But at the sled hill, no one seemed to notice.


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