A man prepared to sled down Skipper Bowles Drive. He took off his shirt. A crowd of around 75 parted. He screamed and raised his arms in the air. He placed a bed on top of a four-wheeled cart and lay down. Students — maybe friends, maybe strangers — started pushing him down the hill. Everyone laughed. Everyone cheered.
In the crowd, Jacob Meyer, a freshman from Charlotte, waited his turn.
Temperatures over the next several nights will remain below freezing:
- Classes on Jan. 30 are canceled until 9:30 a.m.
- DPS Chief Jeff McCracken said his department works with Chapel Hill Transit, the chancellor’s office, Grounds Services and other stakeholders to decide on campus closures. He said they try to make a decision by around 5:30 a.m., though Alert Carolina emails weren’t delivered until after 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
- Department of Public Safety Spokesman Randy Young said several sledding injuries were reported but didn’t have details about the number or extent of the injuries.
“It reminds me of my childhood. In my neighborhood … I would sled all the time down those two hills right next to my house, and this reminds me a lot about it. Just all of it. And the experience here is so much better because there are so many people to share it with,” he said.
“I was talking to my friends, and I was telling them some of these sleds go fast and some of them don’t, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m with the people that I really like.”
Meyer rode down on the cart but skipped putting the mattress on top of it. He nearly hit a fellow student — but didn’t quite. He apologized after he ended his run. The pair high-fived.
A police car was parked at the top of the hill, blocking traffic. An ambulance was stationed at the bottom for a few minutes, keeping watch.
Fanny Laufters, a junior, surveyed the scene.
“The mattress was a new concept. I appreciate the novelty of it,” she said.
Laufters and several friends traveled from Chapel Ridge to South Campus. She said she had never been sledding in Chapel Hill but felt at home riding the mattress down the icy hill.
“It was really random. There was a mattress. People were like, ‘Who sacrificed their mattress to play?’ Whatever. So as they were coming up we asked them, and they were cool with it so we went down on the mattress,” she said.
She didn’t get very far. There were too many people on the mattress with her.
A different group of friends decided not to go to Skipper Bowles Drive — it was too crowded for them. They headed for a hill to the side of the baseball stadium where others were sledding, but they just watched.
A police officer stood behind the group of 35 or so, drinking coffee. He didn’t say anything. A man asked him if he wanted to sled. The officer declined.
The group headed to the parking lot behind Ehringhaus Residence Hall. Maybe eight people were there. They started sledding and built a ramp so the curb would stop spilling passengers from their sleds.
“My favorite part was when it first started snowing, and I went to make a snowman with my best friends on the tennis courts,” said Chandler Rock, a sophomore. “We’re making the snowman and using whatever decorations we had to make the eyes and everything. Snow was coming down. It was so beautiful.”
Everywhere on campus, stories were forming.
A group of friends were clustered in the lobby between Aycock and Graham Residence Halls. None were wearing shirts. It was 1:30 a.m., and they were about to run to the Pit.
They had a cardboard box and rope.
“We have a team. We can be like the Jamaican bobsledders except we’re the Olde Campus Lower Quad bobsledders,” said Matt Newman, who lives in Graham Residence Hall.
The group ran outside and onto Raleigh Street. Newman sat on the cardboard. His friends pulled him with the rope.
Classes weren’t on anyone’s mind.
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