Snow Central

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2- & 4-legged fun in the park

By Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke

Central Park bustled with activity the day after a blizzard dumped almost two feet of snow on New York City. Locals and visitors spent the day sledding and skiing, building snowmen and throwing snowballs.

Downhill Excitement's A trio of sledders fly down Cedar Hill in Central Park on their sled making the best of the blizzard. Photo by Andrew Schwartz

Martin Stute, a professor of environmental science at Barnard, took his cross-country skis out of his closet on Monday morning and was soon gliding around the Upper West Side. He planned to ski at least 10 miles by the end of the day. “It"s just fantastic, you can go all over the city and never have to take your skis off, he said. Last year, Stute, 51, skied to a meeting at the Natural History Museum from his Morningside Heights apartment. “I wish I could ski to work but I live too close.

Emiliano Perez, 4, of Mexico City, was excited to play in snow for the second time in his life. “Making a snowman is the most fun part of being in the snow. We even got this carrot for the nose at the supermarket, said his father, Fernando Perez, 35, as he tried to mold the powdery snow into a head for the snowman by putting it in a plastic bag.

Michaela and Franziska Castillo spent the day making snow angels, hiking around the snow banks and running in the light, fluffy snow. Mother and daughter were covered in snow after what Michaela, 7, decided was their final snowball fight of the day before she needed a hot chocolate. “Central Park is the best thing about New York, said Castillo, 35. “Without it, we would go crazy.

“The snow in the park is so beautiful, you can be in the country without taking a train or a plane or anything, said Kathy Jolley, 61. “Whenever it snows, we make sure to come out. Jolley"s husband carried their 14-year-old Maltese, Muffin, in a sling. “Muffin was walking, but then she said ‘enough." She"s an old lady, said Jolley.

Other dogs were more excited to play in the snow. On Monday afternoon, Pam Aguilar and her dog, Ripley, were in Central Park for the third time since the snow started the night before. “Ripley loves the snow. We were out here last night during the blizzard and it was amazing for both of us, said Aguilar, 39. “There were four or five dogs playing and it was just beautiful. Ripley, a lab-pitbull mix, wore booties to protect her paws from the salt as she ran into snow banks as tall as she was.

“We are still looking for the best hill, said Jonathan Bleiberg, 14, carrying a boogie board made for sledding. “This is a baby hill, said his sister, Emily, 10, pointing to the hill on 85th Street and Central Park West near the entrance to the park.

Cedar Hill, near 79th Street and Fifth Avenue, was a popular sledding spot's even for those who had to travel to get there.

“There are smaller parks downtown, but the sledding is better up here. I Googled the best sledding in New York City and Cedar Hill came up, said Jonathan Levitt, 15, of Chelsea.

“I grew up going to Riverside Park, but this hill is way better. said Lauren Soll, 17, a high school senior at Columbia Prep. “This is so much fun, but I just don"t know why we always seem to get huge blizzards during breaks. If only this had happened on a weekday in January, we could have had a snow day, said Soll.

Although the holiday Monday was an opportunity for many to take advantage of the snow, it was a normal day for some's just a little more slippery. Scott Cohen ran through the park in his usual winter jogging outfit of shorts and a neoprene shirt. “You have to be really careful of your footing and diligent of your foot strides, but I couldn"t resist the opportunity to be in the park today. It"s just gorgeous, said Cohen, 50, who is training for the Mumbai marathon and runs in the park most days. “I just try to avoid the shiny curvatures on the road and slow down a bit.

While most people in Central Park on Monday enjoyed the snow, it meant a lot of work for those involved in cleanup. Louis Urruttia, a supervisor at the Central Park Conservancy, said he expected a busy week of shoveling and plowing as he drove a snowplow through the park. “So far this is not as bad as the blizzard of 1996, but it"s up there, he said. Urruttia, 50, estimates that the Conservancy will use six cubic yards of street salt over the week.

Traffic and transit shut down Sunday night, but some lucky travelers managed to avoid the delays. Mark John, of Cape Town, South Africa, flew to New York for a wedding. “We got here just in time on Sunday, right before JFK shut down, said John, 47. The snow was too overwhelming for John"s 2-year–old nephew, who was back in the hotel on the Upper West Side. “He never saw snow before and he started crying, he said. “It doesn"t snow like this in Cape Town.

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