Big Momma’s House: Volume VII

There is a tendency among Lawrentians to assume that the city of Appleton is an uninteresting place, leading many to rarely leave campus. This column seeks to profile spots in the city to burst your Lawrence bubble, while I use my experience as a townie to give them a side by side comparison with my eponymous mom’s house.

SLUG Hill showing some traces of sled fodder.
Photo by Anton Zemba.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Hello children, and welcome to your own personal Siberian hell. This is the part of the school year that makes people hate Appleton. It is actually a pretty great place in summer, but no one is around to see it. As someone who actually likes Appleton, I have learned to accept that you have only ever experienced Appleton at its crappiest, which is very crappy. In fact, I even pity you for your ignorance; it is not your fault that the period between the last and first day of school is when Appleton blooms into a paradise you will never experience. So, with that in mind, here are a few places you can sled in Appleton without breaking your neck. 

Despite the focus of the articles in my column, I am not actually an enemy of the Lawrence bubble. If Lawrentians stay on campus I do not see what the big deal is. But, this attitude of apathy has certain exceptions, and SLUG Hill — dear God, SLUG Hill — is the biggest. Why would you ever put your life into SLUG Hill’s hands? Why would you ever turn to SLUG Hill for anything even vaguely recreational? This is just pure idiocy. You can drop deuces on Appleton all you like, but Appleton has decent, quality sledding hills. That should be a no-brainer, because anywhere that is not Tornado Alley has good sledding hills. Appleton’s hills are of good quality. But, if you do not use those hills and instead stay on campus and sled on SLUG Hill, you are moron. Arbutus Park is hands down the best hill, and any real townie would agree in the amount of time it takes to summon a shardblade. Arbutus Park has just one sledding hill, but it is steep and fast. All the degrees Appleton loses temperature wise go into the incline of the Arbutus Park hill. It is as steep — or steeper in some sections — than SLUG Hill. And, unlike SLUG Hill, it has zero trees squatting in the middle of the slope and an actual runoff at the bottom. Imagine SLUG Hill with a long stretch of field to coast over at the bottom, instead of reaching the bottom and having to brake immediately inches from SLUG garden or the river. Sounds like a dream, right? It gets better. Arbutus Park has man-made bumps, like any self-respecting sledding hill should have, and also a staircase you can use to walk up the hill. Some years, people — the Wood kids — even build up bumps into full-fledged ramps, so you can go hurtling over the stairs on your sled, leaving parental heart attacks in your wake. 

Arbutus Park is located in downtown Appleton behind the Performing Arts Center on Franklin Street, two blocks away from the Kwik Trip. It is the same distance from campus as Flannie’s. But, it is pretty far from my mom’s house, which meant as kids, we could not go every day. In fact, there were no sledding hills within walking distance of my mom’s house. As you can imagine, this led to some desperate measures. We started with sledding off car roofs, then moving car roofs, then roofs, then getting grounded from using the car for setting a bad example. I cannot imagine a better winter. My house has one roof sort of attached to another, so you can get some air off the first roof, hit the lower roof at the right angle, and then hopefully land in a pile of snow and not in the adjacent lawn hole. You can reference the article three editions ago on this. This makeshift arrangement is comparable in thrill to traditional park sledding, but does the creative chutzpah of sledding at my mom’s house top the sheer lunacy of the speeds at which you can shoot down Fritsch Park? Does the public park venue offer some advantage over a private property sled zone? Do the OG, DIY hills of my mom’s house top the thrilling, stair-leaping ramps my siblings and I construct at Arbutus? What tipped it for me was Arbutus’s location. The hill starts mere feet away from the street, which means you could feasibly pull the same sledding-off-a-moving-car-roof stunt as you can do at my mom’s house, provided you have a driver sober enough to stop. Arbutus wins this one and is the must-see sledding center of Appleton, Wisconsin. I encourage everyone on campus to give this place a chance; you will not be disappointed.