NEW BRITAIN â€“ While the city didnâ€™t get much snow from the expected storm Friday, it did turn out to be just enough accumulation to set the backdrop for an awesome Winter Sled Festival.
The event was put together by the city, New Britain Police Department, New Britain PAL and Parks & Recreation Department.
â€śWhat we wanted to do is just reach out to the community, especially the kids. Itâ€™s been a tough winter so itâ€™s our chance to give back to them,â€ť Police Chief Christopher Chute said. â€śItâ€™s a perfect day for it. It was remote learning in New Britain today, the snow is falling, the conditions are perfect, so itâ€™s a great way to get outside and spend some time with our officers.â€ť
Within the first hour the hill at Walnut Hill Park adjacent to Hart Street was full of kids and adults masked up, bundled in their warmest winter garb with sleds in hand.
â€śWalnut Hill Park is one our greatest treasures in the city, especially in the winter,â€ť Mayor Erin Stewart said. â€śThis is a fun activity for those in our community to enjoy together.â€ť
Music filled the air as everyone simultaneously hopped on their sleds and plummeted down the hill, some super-fast, some super-slow, some very graciously and others not so much. There were, of course, a few sledding casualties.
â€śThe mayor posted about this on her Facebook page and I saved it,â€ť said Jennifer Perez, resident from Hartford who brought her kids and her daughterâ€™s friend. â€śItâ€™s been a long time since covid; theyâ€™re not doing a lot of community events and I always take the kids. I was going to take them sledding at Elizabeth Park, but I saw this and I said I rather come over here. The kids are enjoying it; it takes them out of the house from being in there all day.â€ť
The children with Perez unanimously agreed they were having a good time and this was their first time sledding. One of the boys said he doesnâ€™t really like the winter, but decided to come and it turned out to be a great day.
Jessica Bengtson, a resident of New Britain, said she saw one of her friends on Facebook post about the event and wondered what it was about so she called town hall. She brought her daughter, Katalina, and her nephews.
â€śI wondering how the heck they were going to sled at 7 oâ€™clock at night and I can see it now they have the lights and everything; itâ€™s so incredible and nice of them to do this,â€ť Bengtson said. â€śI usually take my daughter sledding off South High Street at the old Smalley School. I forgot about this hill.â€ť
Katalina said she was having a good time and had gone down the hill a couple times already and fell.
â€śShe knocked somebody over, too,â€ť Bengtson said with remorse.
Free food like hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, hot chocolate and water were provided to everyone.
â€śThe turnout is great weâ€™re only a little bit into it and we have a lot of people so far and I keep seeing them pulling in,â€ť Chute said. â€śWeâ€™re trying to coordinate some sledding activities with everybody in the neighborhood.â€ť
The Police Explorers were at the event as well to assist with anyoneâ€™s needs and the distribution of food.