Rod Meloni: Children rule at Marshbank Park sledding hill

Children create lifetime memories at sledding hill

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. - It's 15 degrees outside, it's sunny and there's a foot of snow on the ground. You have two options: You can complain about the weather, or you can embrace it.

So I went to my closet, pulled out my Sochi Olympics sweatshirt -- you can see the NBC logo on it -- and went down to Marshbank Park, where there's a sledding hill.

If you're about 10 years old, there's no better place to be!

The sledding hills is a joyful world where children excitedly rule, despite the best efforts of adults and their lawyers to tame the chaos by putting up fence lines and posting signs with lots of rules.

The signs warn everyone of the steep hill they built, to sled at your own risk and to understand that there's no supervision. But that's just the way kids like it.

A similarly signed and fenced-in walkway for the trip back up the hill sits as a monument and is utterly ignored.

In reality, at the sledding hill, it's the children who make the rules.

For Amy Blythe and her brother Jake, of Orchard Lake, they like to compete. But victory is measured a little differently: by who goes the farthest, not the fastest.

When it comes to sleds, it's an entirely new day. Body-glove snow and big rubber tubes are the new options, but there's a new retro-wooden sled making a comeback.

L.L. Bean gives grandmas a comfortable and familiar answer to the modern sledding experience to hand down to the next generation.

Amy Blythe showed that you don't really need much of a sled at all, just half a broken one, to enjoy the snow-covered wonderland.

"It's actually our neighbor's sled," she said. "(My sled) is at home. It doesn't go very fast."

Since there have been kids, there have been infinite ways to zip down the sledding hill. Buffy Hyde, of West Bloomfield, said you don't need a fancy sled, or even a sled at all. Her mother, Kelly, can't get enough of Marshbank any time of the year, but she said this season is special.

"We love it," she said. "We come out every time it snows. My little one is Buffy, down there. She lives it up. Every year she looks forward to it. It's a great way to get out and enjoy the weather."

The rules said the fun has to stop at dusk. We weren't there to see if the kids ignored that rule, but no matter how long they stay -- for a few runs or the entire afternoon -- there's no disputing the fact that it's one of the childhood memories you'll keep with you for a lifetime.

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