It looks to be the first good sledding snow for most of Mecklenburg County in awhile, what with our biggest snow in a decade predicted to fall in Charlotte Wednesday, so we’re a little concerned you might have forgotten how.
Allow us to enumerate key steps:
1. Get a sled substitute (see No. 2). Reasonable ones include big plastic garbage can lids, the kind without handles on top; tops from those turtle sandboxes; inner tubes (big ones, though); flat tops from plastic storage boxes; and the original makeshift genius idea: a big cardboard box, flattened. Boogie boards and other water toys may work, though their slippy-ness is inferior.
2. If you’re buying, go yesterday. Blackhawk Hardware at Park Road Shopping Center had sold 300 by 8:45 a.m. Tuesday (they opened at 8), and Lowe’s stores from University to Pineville were out by midday. At 2 p.m., Renfrow Hardware owner Mary Beth Blackley in Matthews estimated she had 300-400 round plastic $10 sleds left, but noted she’d resupplied twice from Monroe already that day, and expected to be out by the end of the day. Dick’s? Sports Authority? REI? Sold out, sold out, not sold out – perhaps because it doesn’t sell sleds.
3. Be safe. Dr. Scott Burbank, who does general orthopedics and sports medicine with OrthoCarolina, says the most typical sledding-related injury is probably fractures. “Kids don’t know how fast they can go … and man, some of these sleds go pretty fast.” He saw a guy in his 30s with a rotator cuff tear from sledding and a guy on Monday with a calf injury. His top suggestions?• Helmets. “It’s the new fad with skiing, right? ( Yes.) We don’t see a lot of head injuries, but I’m sure they could happen. Helmets are a smart move.”
• Parental supervision. Carolinas kids don’t sled enough to gain practical experience. “The key is fractures, whether you’re feet first or head first: Something’s gotta stop you, and bones break.” Parents can help keep a preventive eye out.
• “Sledding on the street is not the smartest thing.”
In other words, this ain’t Sochi, bud, and you ain’t Sage Kotsenburg. Be smart.
4. Be respectful. Make sure where you’re sledding is a public place. If it’s private, get permission from the owners.
5. Now: top sledding spots, culled from reader suggestions and places Observer photographers have found abundantly photogenic in the past:
Mid-Charlotte: Latta Park and the hill behind St. Patrick’s in Dilworth.
Northward: Cordelia Park in the NoDa region, and Huntersville Athletic Park.
To the south: The corner of Sedley and Foxcroft Roads, in the Sharon Road area.
Westward: Crowders Mountain Golf Course, No. 2 green (Sparrow Springs Road).
And there’s always Freedom Park, in Dilworth. “That seems to be the hot one; they flock to Freedom Park,” said Greg Clemmer, superintendent for park operations for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. “There are no official sledding locations,” and obviously, parks folks want you to be safe and also not tear up the turf. But “we’ve got ’em everywhere, good hills. Each little park has some kind of hill, other than Romare Bearden.”
Bear in mind that parks in the system are “99.9 percent” likely to be closed to cars, said Clemmer, since, based on the forecasts he was seeing, “it’s gonna be pretty nasty.”