Port Huron to open sledding hill at park this summer

Jackie Smith
Port Huron Times Herald

Port Huron — Soon, winter won’t be the only time local families can sled at Palmer Park.

Two artificial ramps for a sledding hill will open up later this month to the public, and sledders can 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 Monday.

“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 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.

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 the City Council last year.

At the time, Winzer said they learned about 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 for itrelated to it.

She said they haven’t decided yet if that’ll include a smaller ramp for small children.

The sledding ramps are expected aimed to be used all year-round. For now, Winzer said they aren’t charging anyoneinterested 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.