01/30/14 — Wheeeee: Wayne County takes to the hills

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Wheeeee: Wayne County takes to the hills

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on January 30, 2014 1:46 PM

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Bryan Hancock, on sled, and Ben Johnson, barely seen behind him, give their dog, Roy (who is a girl), a ride on a sled Wednesday afternoon down a driveway on Ridgewood Drive. Hundreds of Wayne County and Goldsboro residents spent the day sledding and playing in the snow -- a rare sport for folks living in eastern North Carolina.

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Amanda Gray, 10, of Goldsboro, holds on tight as she sleds down the snow-covered hill at the overpass of North Spence and N.C. 70.

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Sebastian Jackson tries out his duck-hunting kayak as a potential sled as his father, Craig Jackson, pulls him in a Mule in Mount Olive Wednesday afternoon.

Like many Wayne County residents, Wednesday was a snow day for the Yelvertons in Eureka. And also like many Wayne County residents, they had to improvise when it came to playing in the rarely seen white stuff.

"I called it my southern redneck Dixie sled," Al Yelverton said as he watched his son Jackson, 17, pull his other son Colton, 13, in a cow trough.

"We make it with what we have. There's no need to invest in a sled. We make due," he laughed.

The implement worked rather well. With steel runners and a large plastic area to sit in, the cow trough glided across the snow while pulled behind a four-wheeler.

The last time it snowed, the Yelvertons pulled a jon boat. This year, they looked for a car hood before finally settling on the cow trough.

Before zipping around in his backward, Al and the rest of the Yelvertons, which also included 17-year-old Brie Cox and 13-year-old Mary Yelverton, were driving their ATVs at the family farm and enjoying the day off.

"It's been awesome," Jackson said. "We just had snow cream."

Sleds were in high demand all across the county. On Tuesday, Mike Vernon of Pikeville had driven around Goldsboro looking for the standard plastic toy for his 8-year-old daughter Mikayla. He ended up going to the auto parts store and buying a few tire tubes.

"Next time, we'll have to get one of those boogie boards," he said.

Mikayla didn't seem to mind as she shot down the steep side of the interchange ramp.

"I like that you're going straight down," Mikayla said.

"She's not scared of anything. She'd be out here during the nighttime if we'd let her, with pneumonia and everything," her mother, Stephanie Vernon, said.

One of the most unusual -- and best performing -- improvised sleds, however, had to be a jerry-rigged Dollar General sign with a duct-taped foam handle created by Kris Wolff just south of Fremont.

"We're redirecting this. It's surprising that we have these things in our cars," Angie Reason said to Wolff.

"I built your house out of the back of my car," he replied. "I hope Dollar General doesn't need this."

Minutes after, he sent 10-year-old Jacob Effler flying down the off ramp.

In Goldsboro, the best sledding turned out to be on one of the steep driveways leading to Ridgewood Drive, with both adults and children taking turns flying down the hill, across the road and into the field bordering Stoney Creek.

Many of the children were members of the Goldsboro Young Life organization.

"We came out here with the kids to have a good old time," said Bryan Hancock, one of the Young Life leaders.

Among the children were Hancock's niece, Rigg Kinsey, 7, who careened down the hill again and again in her camouflage hunting pants, with seemingly endless energy.

"I like the sledding," she said. "I like the snowing."

Also full of energy were Hancock's own children, Hallie, 6, and Noah, 9, who slid until they were able to connect on a high-five as Hallie stood at the bottom the hill and Noah came down on his stomach.

The highlight, though, was when Ben Johnson and Bryan Hancock slid down the driveway with Hancock's dog, Roy, sitting in the front of the sled. And while the wild ride might have had Roy on edge, she was all smiles and licks when she got to the bottom.

Back in Pikeville, the Moorings were forgoing sledding for another time. For 9-year-old Madelynne, 7-year-old Wesley and 5-year-old Paisley, Wednesday was for playing for the snow. The young trio first tried to build a snowman, but the snow wasn't sticky enough. Next, the made snow angels, which ended up being Wesley's favorite activity. And to round out the day's events, they threw snowballs.

The family dog, Junior, was also romping in the snow with the children. The English bulldog jumped and leaped across the yard and even sat on Wesley during his snow angel attempts.

The trio's mother, Pam Mooring was watching on the steps.

"I figure by tomorrow, it'll stick better," she said. Mrs. Mooring works with Wayne County Public Schools, and she doubted that she would have to work Thursday. That left plenty of time for sledding at another time.

The Mooring family didn't have sleds either, but Wesley already was thinking about alternatives.

"We don't have sleds, but we have boards. They said we can use surf boards," he said.

The few actual sleds that were in use in Wayne County on Wednesday were owned by the Pollards in Fremont. Laura Pollard and her family were slowly accumulating the whole neighborhood at their spot at the interchange of I-795 and state route 222.

"We had these for years," Pollard said, referring to the scuffed brightly-colored plastic disks used by her family and friends.

Laura, her children and a few other families were zipping down the hill. Some ran into each other. Others face-planted at the bottom and had to shake the snow out of their hair. None seemed to be having dull time.

"That's like bowling, right there," Jordan Wilson remarked as one sledder ran over another.

"Every time it snows, we're out here. We try to make it a ritual," Mrs. Pollard said. "Before it was a bridge, we were out here."

Their only concern, she said, was having to stop later this weekend when the snow melts, and she was doing everything she could to prevent that.

"The plowman -- we gave him the bird. He's taking our snow away," she said.