Kevin Hernandez, 8, left, tries to tackle Jordan Kainz, 12, while he flies off a jump they built for sledding Wednesday at East Elementary School.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Kevin Hernandez, 8, left, tries to tackle Jordan Kainz, 12, while he flies off a jump they built for sledding Wednesday at East Elementary School.

Students find ways to pass the time during holiday break

— After all the wrapping paper was picked up off the floors and the Christmas trees were taken down, a unique quiet settled over Craig.

Many families went on vacation to visit relatives, while other residents went right back to work Dec. 28.

But for the town’s youths, there are no structured days, no planned activities and no homework or sports until Jan. 4, when school starts again.

On Wednesday, after several inches of snow fell in Northwest Colorado, several children and families found the perfect way to spend their time and burn off energy — sliding on sleds and saucers down the area’s snow-laden hills.

On Wednesday near the west end of 12th Street, north of downtown Craig, three children enjoyed their favorite part of the holidays — finally getting to play with the presents they opened last week.

“Break is actually fun,” 9-year-old Melissa Davis said. “We got our sleds, and I got new snow pants.”

She and her sister, Tabitha, 7, and her stepbrother, James, 5, visited what residents call Cathy Cisar Hill several times so far during the holiday break.

After having lived in Craig for a few years, they learned the sledding legend behind the hill’s name.

“Cathy Cisar was sledding down the main road,” Melissa said, pointing at the dirt road that led up to the Sandrocks. “She went all the way down and got hit by a car. Her brother went down, and she got him out of the way but she died. You can’t sled on the road. It’s dangerous.”

After hearing the story, James’ father, Kip Wallace, made the trek up the hill with his children for the first time Wednesday, while he had a day off from his job at Twentymile Coal Co.

“That’s what she keeps telling me,” he said of the Cisar tragedy. “I just wanted to make sure this hill is not too vicious or anything.”

The accident that killed Cisar occurred in 1963 and prompted a revamp of the hill next to the road to accommodate a safe place for children and their sleds.

“We come here because it’s the best sledding spot,” James said as his father joined him for one of their last rides down the hill.

Even though the three children began to complain of cold hands and asked for hot cocoa, Kip saw the value in spending time outside with them.

“We really don’t get outside enough with them,” he said. “But we live in a nation of obesity. Plus, it gives us a little break. We try to kick them out for about an hour a day. And it’s a really great way to meet friends.”

At East Elementary School, a group of students spent the early afternoon with their sleds, building jumps, turns and bumps to liven up their rides.

Kyann Kainz, 11, and Eliz­abeth Weis, 10, sat on their sleds and watched as Kyann’s brother and friend built the jump.

“I’m just going to sit here while the boys build a jump, and then I can jump it,” Kyann said. “Sledding is so fun, because you get to go really fast. Sometimes you get snow in your face, which feels good if you’re all sweaty, because sledding takes a lot of energy.”

She said walking up the hill and running to jump on her sled are a surprising work out.

While the two agreed they weren’t quite ready for school to start, Elizabeth said she was getting bored.

“I hang out with my friends and watch TV,” she said. “I am kind of excited for school to start so I can see all my friends that I don’t get to see after school.”

The girls left when their gloves and feet were soaked, but Jordan and Kevin Hernandez stayed well into the afternoon, building and flying off of sledding jumps taller than they were.

“I get bored if I stay in the house,” Kevin said.

Jordan said he will be out at the hill at East Elementary every day until school starts.

He grinned as the snowflakes fell around him, hoping the weather would continue to cooperate for the rest of break.

“If it snows every day like this, it will be perfect,” he said.

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