It was quite obviously winter one recent day between Christmas and New Year’s, and that meant many would journey on snow-covered roads to get to this popular sled-riding hill off state Route 172 just west of East Canton.
Falling snow partially obscured the figures who were enthusiastically sliding down the slope, and softened the contrast of the dark and leafless trees in the background.
It was quite obviously winter one recent day between Christmas and New Year’s, and that meant many would journey on snow-covered roads to get to this popular sled-riding hill off state Route 172 — Lincoln Street E — just west of East Canton.
In warmer seasons, it is a golf driving range — East Canton Family Golf — with a miniature golf course, a nursery, and a food stand. The ground slants down, not steeply, but enough that a sled can build up some safe speed. And the run is wide, with a fairly long distance to where the terrain turns up toward a woods.
“Every year we come here,” said Raul Cantu of Canton, who was there to give pushes at the top of the slope to his grandchildren — Adailios, 6; Franklin, 11, Andres, 12, and Antonio, 13.
At a distance on that tree-lined ridge, two snowmobiles towed sleds with children on them. But most of the sleds at the hill this day were pulled back up the hill by the children themselves.
These sleds, mostly plastic, come in different shapes — round and rectangular — and a rainbow of colors — blue, red, orange, yellow, green.
The manner of riding sleds down the incline also varies. Feet first. Head first. Sitting. Lying down. It’s a personal choice.
Nobody was standing on the sled and holding the rope for stability until he lost balance and tumbled head-first over the sled into the snow. But that might just be in the memory of a writer who was foolish in youth.
This is not to say there are no sled-riding accidents at this hill. Children have been falling off of sleds, well, since there has been snow. And the dozen or so sled riders this day also had to gather themselves up from time to time, dust off their snow pants and stocking caps, and get back on the sled before they lost their nerve.
Young Tateum Richard, 3, tested her resolve as she rode down the hill, slowly, with both hands on the grips of her plastic saucer, the device turning as it descended. In the moment she turned back toward the top, her eyes were wide with apprehension. “Was this a wise idea?” she seemed to be wondering. But the second the saucer stopped at the bottom she was off of it and bringing it back up to the top to try it all again.
Tateum came with Seth Richard and Shannon Bond, along with Langston Richard, 11⁄2; Gavin Bond, 10; and Oceiana Bond, 12.
“We live in Savannah, Ga.,” said Richard, who was back with the rest to visit family in East Canton and other communities in Stark County.
Page 2 of 2 - Sled riders come and go during the afternoon, the wintry whiteness luring them there and then sending them on their way with a damp chill.
“Tateum said she’s ready to go back to Georgia,” Richard said, before he and Bond took the youngest of their children to sit in the warmth of their car.
Their elder siblings stayed on the hill for a time for those last few runs down the hill. They will be the best runs, no doubt. Later, in a memory, they always are.