How to enjoy a blizzard

blizzard
Screen capture YahelNYC/Twitter

This is how New Yorkers handled the city's second-biggest snowstorm on record.

All week long in the days leading up to Winter Storm Jonas we were pummeled with blizzard do's and don'ts. We were warned of the many dangers and supermarket shelves in the eastern United States were all but stripped clean. A state of emergency was declared in 10 states plus the District of Columbia. By noon on Saturday the snow was falling so furiously in New York City – up to three inches an hour – that seeing to the end of the block was challenging. Wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour turned snow into sprays of needle-like missiles which seemed to favor exposed skin and eyes. It was mayhem.

So what did droves of New Yorkers (and thrill-seeking tourists) do? They went out to play in the snow!

While many chose to stay under covers and cook and read, loads of people took the other approach. Times Square was packed, I'm not sure so many selfies have ever been taken there. The streets were filled with traffic until 2:30 pm when a travel ban was issued. After that, pedestrians – and sledders and skiers and cyclists – ruled the pavement with abandon.

How to enjoy a blizzard© Melissa BreyerI thought that Central Park might feature a few solitary figures and maybe some intrepid cross-country skiers ... but instead, the 843-acre heart of Manhattan became an ersatz arctic playground. It was packed. That visibility was next to nothing didn't deter herds of kids on sleds and hundred of ecstatic dogs out for a romp. There were people on snowboards taking the mountains, a downhill ski jump was created at the stairs leading to Bethesda Fountain (above), cross country skiers snaked through all the trails. Every type of inflatable water toy was employed in the act of sliding down hills; some even brought out inflatable mattresses for luxury sledding. There were flasks being passed, there was beer. There was at least one game of football, I kid you not. Smiling people gamboled about, musicians played beneath the overpasses ... it was just like another day at the park, albeit with a driving blizzard and knee-deep snow.

How to enjoy a blizzardBrett Van Dyke and Tom Wilson on the Williamsburg Bridge/Screen captureElsewhere in the city, bridge inclines became downhill ski slopes and barren roads became snowboarding trails. Snow sculptures, from snowmen and women to animals and monsters, were erected as quickly as they were covered in more snow. It was one of the wackiest days ever in New York City, and for NYC, that's saying a lot.

Exhibit A: The cross-country skiing T-Rex:


I know that the storm brought a great deal of hardship to many – and for everyone who was required to be out and didn't want to be, I'm sincerely sorry. (And to the NYC Department of Sanitation, my eternal gratitude for all that you do, always.) I can't imagine seeing this kind of revelry during an event like a hurricane, but something about snow in the city can really bring out the kid in those who are equipped to enjoy it. While living in the city usually costs us a deficit of nature, it also affords a certain amount of safety when nature comes at us full force, at least where snow is concerned. It's when the urban lack of isolation pays off. I know New Yorkers have a reputation for being grumpy, but we also know how to play and our sense of community can be very beautiful, as a day in the park during one of the city's worst blizzards so wonderfully proved.

snowboard caseyTwitter/viaAnd earlier Lloyd shared this amazing footage of Casey Neistat zipping through the city streets towed by a Jeep on a snowboard. Watch: Another way to get around New York City: on a snowboard.

Tags: Winter

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