Despite Norton’s efforts, Capitol Hill sledding still a no-go

June 15, 2024 | (Colleen Kelleher)

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s most famous hill remains off limits to sledding. The U.S. Capitol Police reaffirmed on Wednesday the ban on sledding on the Capitol grounds.

Now, a petition is urging the Sergeant at Arms and the U.S. Capitol Police to lift the sledding ban.

The group behind the petition plans to hold a “sled-in” at 1 p.m.  on the west lawn of the Capitol to make its point.

Capitol Police Board Chairman Frank Larkin gave CNN chapter and verse about the board’s decision to reaffirm the ban: “Unfortunately, the board cannot grant exceptions to the Traffic Regulations for the United States Capitol Grounds or 2 USC § 1963.”

In case you don’t have your copy handy, that’s the one that reads “It shall be the duty of the Capitol police on and after April 29, 1876, to prevent any portion of the Capitol Grounds and terraces from being used as playgrounds or otherwise, so far as may be necessary to protect the public property, turf and grass from destruction or injury.”

Larkin added, “If the forecast holds true, there are many families who will want to enjoy the snow tomorrow. Although, for security reasons, the Capitol grounds are not your typical neighborhood hill or playground.”

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to Larkin last month asking him to overturn the ban. The board doesn’t have to respond until March 26, by which time snow will probably be done for the season. She wrote to him again on Wednesday, CNN reports, asking for a temporary waiver tomorrow through Sunday: “Have a heart, Mr. Larkin, a kid’s heart that is,” she wrote.

No dice.

Norton is “deeply disappointed” in the decision.

“I’m asking for reasonable regulations, and I’m sure they have the authority to do that,” Norton told WTOP Thursday morning.

She says essentially the board Capitol Police Board has put a “sign on America’s front lawn that says, ‘Keep off.'”

Norton told WTOP that there doesn’t need to be an “absolute ban on sledding.”

She says that Capitol Police officers haven’t enforced the ban for years, and she would urge them to go back to ignoring the regulation: “Because the Board did not enforce the sledding ban for many years, it is clearly within its power not to enforce it again during a four-day period,” she said, in a release.

Larkin told CNN that he would continue to review the regulation, and Norton said she was “encouraged” by that.

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