Ayden Anaya crawled up the Manito Park embankment, dragging behind him a colorful sled lassoed to his wrist.
With each careful placement of his hands and feet, the 6-year-old turned to his mom standing several feet below.
“OK, Ayden,” Amanda Anaya shouted. “Wait your turn. And then do it!”
All around him, motions of color. Flurries of white. Sounds of excitement. But he wasn’t like the other kids. This was his first time. He needed a minute.
“Don’t get scared,” his 5-year-old cousin Cameron Viveros yelled. It was all he needed – Ayden leaped forward. Then a sled, a skid, and a thud. To his excitement, he made it down the hill without a scratch. Better celebrate by munching on some snow.
“I think it’s the only thing that’s gotten them away from Fortnite,” said Amanda Anaya, referring to a popular video game. “They love it.”
While two days of record snowfall in Spokane meant headaches for many of Spokane’s residents, it also meant the first snow day for its littlest occupants. In fact, every school district in the county took a break from the monotony Tuesday by canceling classes – sans Freeman School District, which only offered a two-hour delay.
That meant parks, slopes, hills, mounds and embankments were booming.
In Manito Park, one of Spokane’s most popular sledding destinations, pick a hill, and odds were a child – or adult – was raring to sled down it.
“I’m 35,” said Jacob Grady with a beard full of snow after barely missing a tree. “And still sledding.”
Like many others, Grady picked Manito because it’s where he went sledding as a child. A couple of decades later, and he took his two kids on a trip down memory lane.
“It’s such a wonderful time,” he said with a wide smile.
Nearby, David Wolf and Zhanna McIntosh were with their two daughters. They made their way over from their South Hill home, hoping to find others with as much love for outdoor excursions. Then, maybe a cup of something warm.
“We just wanted to get out,” Wolf said. “See all the action.”
Several miles away, braver kids confronted the towering slope of Underhill Park.
Tucked into the East Central Neighborhood – and borrowing its namesake from the hill on the south side leading up to the Ben Burr Trail – only about a half dozen people were present.
Bethany Johnson, who came with her three children while her husband was at work, said the area was somewhat of a hidden gem – in fact, she sometimes won’t tell friends on Facebook where she’s headed on snow days, lest she spoil the kids’ fun.
“We always come to the hill,” she said. “It’s perfect for a snow day.”
Her 11-year-old son, Alfred, agreed.
“It gets all your energy out,” he said as he shook snow from his glove. “And you get to bundle up. And your mom watches and is like, ‘Yay!’ ”
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