When up to a foot of snow walloped Washington over the weekend, it gave joyful kids a reason to play, sledding down Capitol Hill and cutting the rancorous mood over the partial government shutdown.
Furloughed federal workers have been stuck at home for weeks, and those required to work are going without paychecks. But many found that sledding down the massive slope on the West Front under the Capitol Dome is a great way to blow off steam. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
The fun was extended into Monday because the Office of Personnel Management announced that the parts of the government not already shut down would be closed due to snow. Schools were also closed, leaving feds and kids free to frolic.
Sledding at the Capitol might feel a bit rebellious, with Capitol Police officers monitoring the campus as usual. But they won’t stop anyone from hitting the Hill on a tube or toboggan.
A ban on sledding on Capitol Hill was relaxed in 2015, after kids in the surrounding neighborhood garnered national media attention for defying it the year before. Members of Congress were accused of being the “grinches” of Capitol Hill for instituting the ban.
Capitol Police argued the anti-sledding rule was in place for security and safety purposes, noting there were sprinklers installed in the ground and someone could get hurt.
The ban was lifted in a huge spending bill that included language urging the Capitol Police Board to look the other way when sledders charge up the Hill. Some variation of the language has been included in each Legislative Branch spending measure every year since then.
In a 2018 bill summary, the House Appropriations Committee specifically stated: “The agreement expresses support for the time-honored tradition of sledding on Capitol Grounds.”
Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.
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