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Port Huron to open sledding hill at park this summer

Two artificial ramps for a sledding hill will open at Palmer Park on June 17. Port Huron received an award in 2018 from the KaBOOM! and Ralph C. Wilson Jr. foundations, as part of a "Play Everywhere Challenge" program, to pay for the feature. (Brian Wells/The Times Herald via AP)

By JACKIE SMITH
Port Huron Times Herald
AP Member Exchange
PORT HURON– Soon, the winter won’t be the only time local families can go sledding at Palmer Park.
Two artificial ramps for a sledding hill will open up later this month to the public, and those interested will be able to take out tubes to give them a test ride at no cost. Port Huron received an award in 2018 from the KaBOOM! and Ralph C. Wilson Jr. foundations, as part of a “Play Everywhere Challenge” program, to pay for the feature.
City officials, touting it as just the second sledding feature of its kind in the state, recently gave the ramp a test drive. Officials said they still have to finish getting equipment in place, and City Manager James Freed said the city is waiting a couple more weeks because of staffing.
Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Winzer said they’ll celebrate its opening today, the Port Huron Times Herald reported.
“One of our major goals is to provide innovative play in our playgrounds, and we feel that in innovative play, we’re getting kids outside and getting them active,” she said. “Obviously, they have many options on their phones and tablets, so we have to be very creative to get them to want to be outside.”
The KaBOOM! and Wilson foundations have also been involved in other efforts in the city, including the 2018 custom-built playscape at Optimist Park and the ongoing effort to revitalize that park’s skateboarding facilities.
Winzer said they’re also waiting to hear back on two other efforts, but she added it was too soon to divulge what those projects were.
Earlier this month, the city promoted a race down the Palmer Park sledding ramp between Freed and Mayor Pauline Repp, citing a casual challenge after the grant agreement was approved by City Council members last year.
At the time, Winzer said they discovered the sledding ramp idea at a conference and that followed the city’s effort to implement opportunities with free play activities for kids.
She said the only other feature of its kind in the state was at the Detroit Zoo.
The $40,000 grant from KaBOOM! and Ralph C. Wilson funded the 150-foot ramps and accompanying tubes.
The actual sledding feature was slated to cost a little more than $31,000, and Winzer has said the remaining funds would go to pay for any amenities related to it.
She said they haven’t decided yet if that’ll include a smaller ramp for small children.
The sledding ramps are aimed to be used all year round. For now, Winzer said they aren’t charging anyone interested in giving it a run, although they may have to consider a nominal charge down the road.
She said the current ramps can be used by anyone ages 4 and up. A trailer will be located outside to help facilitate its use.