Executive order wipes out sledding at popular hills in Monmouth parks
For children hoping to use the sleds that have been gathering dust for a few light-snow years, two parks in Monmouth County were off limits after Wednesday's nor'easter because of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order limiting outdoor gatherings.
During the recent surge in positive coronavirus cases, Murphy lowered the limit on outdoor gatherings to just 25. As a result, the Monmouth County Park System said sledding will be prohibited at Holmdel Park and the Wolf Hill Recreation Area in Oceanport.
"Large crowds love to come to these places so we are following the guidelines that were given to us by the governor," park system spokeswoman Karen Livingstone told New Jersey 101.5.
The wait in line to get up the hill and people that linger at the bottom of the hill after a sled ride are of concern.
"It's a high number of people. It gets very crowded," Livingstone said. "We enjoy having our visitors but in this time we're really going to stick by the governor's guidelines."
All is not lost for winter activities as the Ski Hut at Thompson Park in the Lincroft section of Middletown will still rent cross-country skis.
"It's outside, there are far fewer people that come to that so that's not really a problem. Skiers go out one at a time," Livingstone said.
The decision did not sit well with people leaving comments on the park system Facebook page.
"This is ridiculous! Shoprite, Walmart, Target, etc. packed with people, but kids can’t go sledding outside in a park," one woman wrote.
The decision also had some supporters.
"Some of the comments here demonstrate why they have to do this. Americans just can’t or won’t follow directions or heed science. Sad," one of them said.
Former Oceanport borough council member Joe Irace said he wasn't sure how sledding could be considered a gathering.
"It's not 50 kids in an organized effort going to meet up and hang out. It's no different than kids walking over to Blackberry Bay Park here in Oceanport and kicking a soccer ball around or throwing a baseball around," Irace said, adding that it's a good place for children because they're outside getting fresh air.
"There's not going to be 20 kids going down on a sled," Irace said. He called on Murphy to consider offering a clarification on where an activity like this falls under the executive orders.
Irace remembered taking his own children to Wolf Hill and praised the parks for having a park ranger on duty and hay bales the bottom of the hill to protect sledders from trees. He is concerned that children will find someplace else to sled.
"All those other little hills not run by anybody. Is that any safer?" he said.