The Queens Parks branch, led by chief of recreation for the borough Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, set up at the top of the sledding slope at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, where hundreds of locals gathered to enjoy the snow and sunshine.
Rodriguez-Rosa explained that the city has been hosting these events for years, and even though it was organized in only a couple of days, it is “a staple event.”
“If there’s more than six inches and the weather calls for it – if it’s not blizzard conditions – then we are able to come out here,” said Rodriguez-Rosa. “We try to make sure that we grab the first substantial snowfall.”
The event had a little something for everyone, even those who may not own a sled.
“We bring out sleds that we have people borrow from us because sometimes there are people from the community that just did not have the opportunity to go buy a sled or have the financial ability to be able to purchase a sled,” Rodriguez-Rosa said. “Then we also have hot chocolate, so we’ve given out more than 500 cups of hot chocolate today alone at this location.”
April Dubish, who was at the park with her son Max and several family friends, said that she was happy to have a reason to get outdoors.
“We just had a great snowstorm so we wanted to take advantage of the great slopes and snow,” Dubish said. “I live nearby in Queens, so it’s a great opportunity and Parks did a great job with this.”
There were also park rangers onsite providing snowshoeing lessons, which Parks employees like Joe Conforti said is a great way to provide New Yorkers with a sense of the outdoors, even within the confines of the city.
“It’s a little more light recreation, and you’re able to test out the snowshoes in the deeper snow, get that kind of feel in case you’re out of the city and want to do that kind of thing you can get a glimpse of it here,” Conforti said.
Local siblings Daniel and Sarah Hill were among those who came out to enjoy the sledding and both tried snowshoeing for the first time at the snow day.
“We love to sled and we love the air that we get. This is our first time snowshoeing. It’s cool but it’s kind of hard because it’s clunky,” said Daniel, to which his sister Sarah added, “It’s kind of hard because the parts are made of metal, so it’s kind of hard to lift your feet.”
Rodriguez-Rosa said she was thankful that the weather held up to make the event a success.
“Because of the temperatures, the snow has compacted, so we’re not losing the snow,” she said.