Norton Requests Sledding Access, USCP Confirms Closure

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A group sleds in the snow winter 2016. Photo: A. Lightman.

This week’s weather forecast is bringing something exciting for children and winter weather enthusiasts alike: snow. Winter storm Orlena hit the midwest Staturday night and is expected to become a Nor’easter. The DC area expected to get three to six inches of snow today with the potential for additional accumulation Tuesday.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton D-DC released a statement Saturday calling for the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) to allow children to sled around the Capitol complex today and this week in anticipation of the snowstorm.

Norton acknowledged that the best place for sledding in the District’s high-density urban environment is on the Capitol grounds.

“While the Capitol complex has been closed since the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, sledding can be done safely by allowing only children and adults accompanied by children with sleds or other sled-like devices to use the Capitol grounds for sledding.”

Norton emphasized that this could be the only snowstorm DC will see this winter and that conditions may allow for the best sledding in several years with its expected accumulation of nearly half a foot. 

Norton said that children have foregone so much this year due to the pandemic and increased security the the wake of the Capitol insurrection that they deserve a few days to play and be kids. 

“Children across America have endured an extremely challenging year, and DC children in particular have not only endured the coronavirus pandemic but now the militarization of their city, with the hostile symbols of fences and barbed wire.” 

Finally, Norton added that sledding is a “simple, childhood thrill” and pleaded with the USCP to open it to families as it is the “least we can allow for our resilient children this winter season.” 

The USCP issued a statement late Saturday night stating that they would not open the hill to families and children this year citing public health and safety concerns. 

“Unfortunately, due to the current security posture, COVID-19 restrictions, and the deconstruction of the Inaugural platform, we cannot permit sledding on the Capitol Complex at this time.” Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with Capital Community News. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]