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Lansing residents make the best of winter with Hawk Island tubing hill

Courtney Foren stands hunched next to her four year old son Will on the right. Will is sitting on a two person blue tube. Caleb Foren stands in the back left holding a red single person tube next to his other son Lincoln. Lincoln is sitting on a red single person tube. The Forens are standing at the top of the Hawk Island Sledding Hill in Lansing.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Courtney (right) and Caleb Foren (left) pose for a photo at the top of the Hawk Island Sledding Hill with their two sons Lincoln (left) and Will (right).

With frigid winds, freezing temperatures and plenty of snow, Michigan winters can be difficult to enjoy. In Lansing, a 500-foot-long tubing hill is helping community members make the best of the season.

It’s around noon on the opening day for the sledding hill at Ingham County’s Hawk Island Park. The parking lot is already full of visitors ready to brave the cold for the thrill of sliding down the 16-foot wide runs.

At the bottom of the hill is Courtney Forner. She was there with her two sons Will and Lincoln and her husband Caleb.

Sporting snow pants, ski masks, gloves and hats — the four are picking out the kind of tubes they will be using to go down the hill. There are single and two-person ones available.

Eric Mogyoros works at the Ingham County Parks Department. He helps make the reservations for the sledding hill.

He says it takes about 12 feet of snow to build the lanes. With special machines, the park department is able to extract water from the pond nearby and turn it into snow.

Snow sledding hill at Hawk Island Park in Lansing
Michelle Jokisch Polo
Sledding hill at Hawk Island Park in Lansing

“The park manager would go every night out there and make snow overnight, and then groom it afterwards so, to make the separate lanes on it, which I think we only have two right now. In the middle of the season we'll have like four," he said.

It’s David Putman’s first time going down the hill. He says he tried to get tickets last year but couldn’t after they sold out in just a few hours.

“I love it. I love it. This thing is fantastic. It is really groomed very well. It’s a slick fast hill and you can’t control yourself. You don’t know which way you're going because it’ll turn you and you don’t know where you are going to end up," he said.

Dragging their tubes behind them, the Forners head to the motorized conveyor belt to take them up.

Motorized conveyor belt at Hawk Island Park
Motorized conveyor belt at Hawk Island Park

"Its like a magic carpet and the kids love it because they don't have to do much to go back down the hill," she said.

After about five minutes on the belt, the group reaches the top and waves as they line up on their tubes.

"We're gonna go have some fun!" shouted Lincoln Forner.

Then it’s just a quick push before the family takes a ride back down.

Tickets for timed-entry to the sledding hill went on sale on the Ingham County Parks website last Wednesday, and by Saturday most weekend days for the season were already sold out. Park officials are hoping the weather will stay cold enough to open up more sledding days in March.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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