News & Politics

Capitol Police Surrender Hill to Children With Sleds

A Capitol Hill sledding ban didn't stop families from having wintery fun.

These snowy scofflaws don't care what Congress thinks. Photographs by Benjamin Freed.

The US Capitol Police turned down Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s last-ditch request yesterday for a temporary lift of the ban on sledding down the West Front of the Capitol. But, it turns out, little kids don’t care what the lawman says.

Several dozen children and their parents ascended to the top of the hill Thursday for an afternoon of protest sledding. With them were several dozen reporters, clearly looking for a piece of the only story that combines snow, winter sports, and protesting Congress’s Scrooge-like dominance of Washington.

“My mom was [scared],” of being chased off or arrested by Capitol Police, one 7-year-old said after her toboggan finished one of the day’s first illegal rides. “I don’t care.”

While some of ther sledders’ parents were greeted by a Capitol groundskeeper and officers distributing fliers printed with the no-sledding rule, officials did not really bother any of the sledders.

“My daughter is 9 and loves to sled,” said Jason Petty, a Capitol Hill resident who added that he did not believe the Capitol Police’s occasional invocation of the sledding ban as a matter of national security. “I don’t buy it. Some people want to stay inside; let them stay inside.”

Other parents showed up because as awesome as sledding is, it’s even more fun when its a proxy for the District’s statehood cause.

“People are out here because they want to go sledding,” said Tim Krepp, a tour guide and Twitterato who ran against Norton in last year’s House election. “Enough with this crap. We live in a city where we get pushed around, and at some point, enough is enough.”

The sledding ban dates back to the 1980s, though it has been more frequently invoked in the name of “national security” since 9/11. A spokesperson for Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Larkin, who oversees the Capitol Police, did not respond to questions about the apparent lack of enforcement.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.