First snow of 2014 brings out sledders, skaters, snowboarders

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Jan. 6, 2014
Zack Gileau and Matt Mattos, both of Griswold, play some impromptu hockey on the community ice rink at Constitution Field in Voluntown. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Zack Gileau and Matt Mattos, both of Griswold, play some impromptu hockey on the community ice rink at Constitution Field in Voluntown. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

You had to be either young or young at heart to brave the sub-freezing temperatures that followed on the heels of 2014’s first snowstorm. But a handful of hardy souls dressed in warm layers and ready for fun took to the ice rink and hillsides at Constitution Field on Jan. 3 to enjoy the 5 inches of snow.

Kyle, 4, and A.J., 8, seemed impervious to the chilly winds, as they repeatedly rode their sleds down the hillside and trudged back up for yet another ride. Their mom, Cindy Beaulieu, gave them a push when needed and cheered them on. A.J. flopped onto his back at the end of one run and waved his arms and legs to make a snow angel. Then he rolled over to do the same on his belly, then again on his back, making a linked chain of angels in the drifting, powdery snow.

Nearby, a half-dozen young men took turns snowboarding down the hill, trying out various stances and cracking jokes about their Olympic aspirations. “Conquer your fears! Embrace the dream! And don’t hit the garbage can!” yelled Colin Gladue, as one of his friends started his run.

“We all went to this school,” said Gladue, gesturing over his shoulder to Voluntown Elementary School. Now the friends were back home from college on break and happy for the chance to get together again on “their” hill. “There’s hills in Griswold, but they’re so big you don’t want to have to walk back up,” said Gladue. Some of the group travel elsewhere for snowboarding, but said they still mostly pursue their sport on their home turf.

At the community ice rink across the field, four friends from Griswold and Preston skimmed the ice, sliding a hockey puck around and waiting for some more friends to show up. Finally, after more than 15 minutes, the setting sun and the wind chill factor got the better of them and they packed it in for the evening.

Local school children got an extended Christmas break, after returning briefly to the classroom for Thursday morning. Norwich, Griswold and Voluntown schools dismissed children at noon Thursday to brace for the snowstorm, which hit the region late Thursday and had blown out to sea by early Friday afternoon. Schools were closed all day Friday.


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