, Muskogee, OK

December 10, 2013

Garrison Hill a winter playground

By Travis Sloat
Times Staff Writer

— Facebook and Twitter updates lit up before the snow even stopped falling Friday in Fort Gibson.

The social media outlets were full of people all coordinating one thing: What time they would be gathering at Garrison Hill?

Matt Laney, who lives in Fort Gibson, brought his wife, Rebecca, and children, Mattix, 4, and Matyson, 7, out for some sledding fun.

“I’m having a blast,” Laney said. “The kids are having fun, too. I haven’t done this in a long time. There hasn’t been a good enough snow. But it’s always been a place everyone knows to come to when it snows. It was blowing up on Facebook. Everyone said to be here at noon.”

Approximately 100 people gathered at Garrison and Coppinger streets in Fort Gibson to sled down Garrison Hill, a particularly steep hill on the outskirts of town. Items used included plastic sleds, giant inflatable tubes and even pieces of cardboard.

Jayme Hill, a junior at Fort Gibson High School, said the cold weather wasn’t even a factor for her.

“I’m pretty bundled up, so it isn’t that cold,” Hill said. “I think it’s a lot of fun. I think it’s pretty cool that everyone comes here and we always go at the same time. To be honest, we’ll probably be back out here every day it snows and we don’t have school.”

Hill also said the times out on Garrison Hill are helping her build good high school memories.

“It’s making memories because we have a great group of kids we hang out with,” she said. “And this is just another thing that we’ll be able to remember and talk about. I’m honestly hoping it snows clean through to Christmas break to keep us out of class.”

Old and young alike participated in the sledding, and the unanimous decision among them was that the trek back up the hill to do it all over again was the worst part. And for those who got their vehicles stuck in the snow during the process, Good Samaritans with four-wheel-drive vehicles and tow straps happily came to the rescue.

Valerie Vickrey, who brought her grandsons out to sled, said she thought the community closeness was “great.”

“It’s actually pretty mild out here today,” Vickrey said. “It’s normally packed. It’s a lot of fun and gives the kids something to do. I don’t know if I’ll go down. I’m a chicken and I can’t afford to get hurt.”

Vickrey eventually got on a sled and started down Garrison Hill but couldn’t gain enough momentum.

“We didn’t get going fast enough,” she said after her post-sled climb.

Laney said he would probably be making a weekend out of the experience.

“I’m off all weekend,” he said. “So I bet I’ll be out here all weekend if the kids have anything to say about it.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or