VALPARAISO | After zipping down the sledding hill at Forest Park in Valparaiso, 12-year-old Jakob Rose and 7-year-old Aubrie Rose had the same reaction.
"That was so fun," Aubrie said.
"It was cool. It's awesome," Jakob said.
For Jakob, the day of sledding was an extra treat, since he lives in Albuquerque, N.M., and is just in town to spend the holidays with his father.
"I don't get much snow in Albuquerque," Jakob said.
Their father, Jeff Rose, of Valparaiso, said sledding is something he grew up doing, and now it's something his children enjoy.
"It gets the kids out of the house. They're bored, ready to go back to school," he said, adding he also planned to take a few runs down the hill.
Although the Roses were using hard plastic sleds, Valparaiso resident Jeff Coto said his children prefer their inflatable sled. Coto said he and his children, 10-year-old Robyn and 6-year-old Hollie, hit the hills whenever it snows.
"It's gorgeous outside, and it's an activity with the kids and gets them out of the house, gets them walking up and down the hills," Coto said.
Coto said his older brother and father were featured in the Hammond Times in the 1960s for sledding down an Interstate 80/94 viaduct in Hammond. Coto said sledding was a big winter activity while growing up in Hammond and it's a tradition that's continued with his children.
Forest Park is just one of several sledding hot spots across the county. Sledders who want the hill to themselves can sled in the early morning. By about 11 a.m., there are 10 to 20 people, said Alex Petersen, a winter ranger at the Forest Park hill. The hill usually hits its peak of about 90 users by 1 p.m., Petersen said.
Petersen sees sledders use a mix of the hard plastic sleds and inflatable tubes. One of his jobs is to make sure sledders don't go down the hill on anything dangerous.
Although sledding is mostly an activity for youths, Petersen said the adults often get in on the fun.
"The adults usually go down when the kids egg them on to do it," Petersen said.