Away we go!

The Island sledding tradition is alive and well this winter.

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Young sledders Arthur and Thomas Bonjour get ready for another run with their parents, Marina and Leonardo. — Lucas Thors

Drive past any hill on the Island when there’s snow (or ice) on the ground, and you’re bound to see kids and families taking full advantage of the winter wonderland — some with sleds and snowboards, and others simply sliding down like penguins on their bellies.

I recall being a young kid, filled with frenetic afterschool enthusiasm, ushering my mother out the front door to beat my friends to the sledding hill at Sweetened Water Farm.

That age-old Island tradition is still going strong, and with the pandemic forcing families to spend more time inside, taking advantage of the seldom-seen snow is a must.

The Times caught up with some sledders at Sweetened Water Farm, one of the most popular sledding spots on the Island, save for the Tashmoo Overlook in Vineyard Haven and Sunset Lake in Oak Bluffs.

Marina Bonjour got her 2-year-old son, Thomas, situated on a sky-blue sled and hopped on the back with him as her husband, Leonardo, helped their older son, Arthur, back up the hill to go for another run.

“This is our first time coming out to sled,” Marina said. “We have been on the Island for five years, but this is the first time we are getting out — it’s just so much fun for the kids.”

Marina added that because of the pandemic, her family has been hesitant to be around too many people, but because it’s outdoors and people are wearing masks, she feels more comfortable.

Leonardo smiled as he watched his kids gear up for another go, and said, “The weather is perfect today, not too cold, not too windy, and kids really need something to do outside.”

He said his family comes from Brazil, where it doesn’t snow, so he is happy to provide a special experience for his children.

“I like them to be outside, even in the winter, so they can experience the snow as much as possible,” Leonardo said. “Today I quit working early to enjoy this weather and spend time with my family — there are four seasons, and you need to enjoy all of them.”

Jaydon Fuller, a student at Edgartown School, said that when it’s not snowing, he is out at the skatepark practicing and having fun with friends.

But Jaydon has been sledding for a long time, mostly in his backyard, which he said is the perfect spot for it.

“The first time I came [to Sweetened Water Farm] was five days ago. It’s really fun because it’s a big hill, and when it gets icy, it gets slippery and you can go really fast,” Jaydon said, pointing to a couple of jumps made out of snow that the more daring take a turn at.

Keira Willoughby, an 11-year-old avid sledder, said she likes to go off the jumps, and is a bit of a speed demon.

“I like to go really fast, and if it’s icy enough, you can make it all the way to the fence,” she said, gesturing to a fence at the other side of the sledding hill. “When you get this much snow, you gotta sled,” Keira said with gusto.

Keira’s grandfather, Ed, said he has been coming to the farm since he was a kid, and has brought her sledding ever since she was 4 years old.

“Keira’s mother passed away about five years and eight months ago, so my wife and I are raising her,” Ed said. “We try to do as much as we possibly can with her, and she loves sledding.”

Our top five coolest spots for sledding

Sweetened Water Farm, Edgartown

Sunset Lake Hill, Oak Bluffs

Farm Neck Golf Club, Oak Bluffs

Tashmoo Overlook, Tisbury

Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary, Tisbury

 

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