Recipe for a perfect snow day:
Take a foot of snow and sprinkle liberally through the Wichita area. Add boots, coats, mittens and sleds. Combine with big pot of chili or batch of fresh-baked cookies. Stir in some books and a roaring fire. Pop in a movie. Season abundantly with laughter. Serves plenty.
For tens of thousands of Wichita-area kids and grownups, Thursday’s snow meant a day off from school or work to do whatever they wanted. And most will get another one Friday.
Mickey Lynch’s kids wanted to go sledding at College Hill Park, so he loaded them all up Thursday – twin 6-year-olds, three preteens and a friend – and drove them there. He also packed a portable fire pit and some pinion wood, and while the kids were sledding, he warmed himself by the fire in the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church parking lot.
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“My body can’t take that hill anymore, so I figure well, I’ll be warm over here,” Lynch said. “Then the kids can come and warm up, and we can stay out as long as we want.”
Thursday’s snow – the wet kind that floats in the air, melts on the tongue, squeezes into perfect snowballs and scrunch-scrunch-scrunches underfoot – was perfect for outdoor fun.
Assuming you could get out of your house or driveway to enjoy it.
Officials urged residents to avoid travel unless it was absolutely necessary. But hundreds of people, including a group of nine Andover Middle School students, thought sledding was in the “necessary” category.
“Did you see our sweet jump?” said one of the students (Erin or Taylor or Katie or Whitney – we lost track). The kids had built a mogul into one side of the sledding hill and were taking turns sliding down somersaulting off of it.
Others preferred the snow as scenery, enjoying it from the warmth and comfort of living rooms or kitchens.
“Snow days are cozy breaks in a hectic world,” Wichitan Juliann Mathews said via Twitter on Thursday. “Peaceful and magical.”
Mathews and her daughter, Sarah, had a pancake breakfast and watched “Pocahontas” in their jammies.
Diane Bartlett baked peanut butter cookies and enjoyed the fire while her daughter, Tabor, built an igloo outside.
Julie Wilkinson’s 10- and 6-year-old daughters invited friends over for an impromptu slumber party.
“I love snow days,” Wilkinson said. “It’s kind of a time to just snuggle with your kids and play. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. You can just chill.”
Plenty of Wichita-area residents had to work, of course – from home via telephone or computer, if not in person. Teachers graded papers. Bankers held conference calls. Web designers updated websites.
But even they found ways to have a little snow day fun or relaxation.
“Today I want to catch up on my bill reading and write my newsletter,” said Kansas Rep. Nile Dillmore of Wichita. But “a nap seems in order as well.”
For Jennifer Keller, the snow day felt a little like a time warp.
“I feel like I’ve gone back 100 years,” she said on Facebook. “The men folk are out shoveling and I’m inside cooking for them!”
Another popular activity: television or movie marathons. Wichitans reported popping corn and vegging on the couch to enjoy “Downton Abbey,” “The Walking Dead,” classic movies and Looney Tunes.
Morgan Overman bundled up her 6-year-old daughter, Langley, and 3-year-old son, Torsten, to join the crowd at College Hill Park. It was Torsten’s first big snowstorm, and the toddler was having a ball tromping through the snow and sliding down the hill.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t really have the day off,” she said, smiling. “But this is fun.”