Midstate residents enjoy rare snow day with makeshift sleds

pramati@macon.comJanuary 29, 2014 

One person had a genuine sled. The rest made do with the plastic tops of garbage cans, laundry baskets and whatever else they could find to embrace their inner Shaun White.

Dozens of people flocked to Coleman Hill Wednesday morning to take advantage of a rare day of snow and hurl themselves down the hill on whatever they had available.

As one person would slide down, the rest would cheer on the sledder, usually followed quickly with shouts of “bail! bail!” as the person in the makeshift sled approached a tree or Hill Park Place below.

Brian Whitley approached the hill with his classic wooden sled, the Flexible Flyer, which he’s had for nearly 30 years. One of his sons looked down the hill’s long slope and told him, “I’m sure you’re going to die.”

“C’mon, guy, show us what you’ve got,” said Trish Whitley, Brian’s wife, looking on with their sons Sam, 9, and Brice, 6.

Brian Whitley took a few moments to prepare himself.

“I’m just figuring out my route,” he said.

He made it about a third of the way down the hill before wiping out, rolling with his sled for a few feet before stopping.

“This thing is super fast,” he said. “The steering capability is not quite what it used to be. ... It’s fun to let our boys use it on the snow. ... I think this is the best spot in Macon.”

“My husband grew up in Richmond, Va.,” Trish Whitley said. “He’s had that wooden sled for some time, and every once in awhile, he gets to pull it out. We live in Shirley Hills, and there’s not enough of a hill there (for sledding).

“We wanted to get the best Macon sled experience.”

Some enthusiasts used wakeboards -- used on the water behind motorboats -- as makeshift snowboards. Clint Cawley, a medical student at Mercer University, braved the hill a few times while standing on his board. Cawley, a Tifton native, said it was his first time in snow.

“It makes you want to go to Colorado and do the real thing,” he said. “It’s pretty intense. It’s pretty cold, too.”

Some of those who didn’t make it down the hill watched while drinking hot chocolate. Others decided to pelt their friends and family with snowballs.

Lisa Lemon went to the hill with her two children and her husband, Ron, to try out the plastic top of a storage box.

“It worked at Vineville Academy,” she said. “We’re working our way up.”

Coleman Hill wasn’t the only place to see snow action Wednesday.

Jon Austin broke out his snow skis and took to the slopes -- the slopes being the 18th hole at the Idle Hour Country Club golf course.

Austin’s mother, Kristen Oren, said his dream at 10 years old was to join the U.S. Olympic ski team. While living in Macon didn’t help spur that goal, Oren said he goes skiing a couple of times a year.

He said he and his friends were able to get a couple of runs in while the snow was still thick.

“It was fun,” said Austin, a senior at Stratford Academy. “Going down from the green, there’s a creek at the bottom, so you have to stop really fast. There was a hill, and I was able to jump it a couple of times.”

Austin said the last time it snowed, he didn’t have skis, so getting to use them in Macon was a rare treat.

“It was great for Macon, Ga.,” he said. “It was fun.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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