Sledders welcome on Capitol Hill after lawmakers intervene

J. Scott Applewhite
Bashon Mann and his children sled down a hill on Capitol Hill in Washington as snow falls. The children of Washington are finally welcome to go sledding on Capitol Hill. (Associated Press)

It took an act of Congress, but the children of Washington are finally welcome to sled down on Capitol Hill.

With a major blizzard bearing down on Washington, the U.S. Capitol Police on Thursday said they won’t be enforcing — as they have in years past — a longstanding sledding ban. Existing law officially forbids sledding in order to protect the Capitol grounds. But in legislation that cleared Congress last month, lawmakers instructed the cops to chill out.

In prior years, sheepish Capitol police officers reluctantly enforced the ban. Last year, however, revelers orchestrated a “sled-in” — with the full support of Washington’s nonvoting delegate, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, and a complement of local media covering the story. The police stood aside, avoiding the embarrassment and bad media coverage that would have come from breaking up the fun.

Enter the powerful House Appropriations Committee, whose chairman has an office overlooking a prime sledding spot. The panel added language to a catchall government funding bill that passed last month instructing the Capitol Police to “forbear enforcement” of the decades-old ban “when encountering snow sledders on the grounds.”

The police say they’ll still be there, but this time they’ll be watching to make sure the kids are having a safe time of it.

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