WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dozens of people staged a "sled-in" on Capitol Hill on Thursday during a late-winter snowstorm, ignoring a police ban on sledding on the grounds of the white-domed symbol of U.S. democracy.
"We're out here sledding for America," Mai Fernandez told Reuters Television after she skidded down the hill with her dog, Ariel, in her lap.
Sledding has been prohibited on Capitol Hill for security reasons since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. U.S. Capitol Police said recently they would enforce the ban.
Details on the "sled-in" were posted on a Change.org petition after District of Columbia Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton's request for a four-day waiver to allow sledding was denied. Before the ban, the Capitol grounds had long been a site for sledding.
The snowstorm drew dozens of Washingtonians to Capitol Hill, with children racing down the slope on sleds and adults sliding in snowpants. At one point, the fun seekers were outnumbered by media covering the story.
A U.S. Capitol Police officer approached sledder Tim Krepp and said: "There is no sledding or skiing on Capitol grounds for life, safety and property damage issues." But police did not intervene to stop the sledders.
Thursday's storm was part of a huge system stretching from Texas to New England that closed schools, canceled nearly 4,000 flights and stranded hundreds of drivers in Kentucky.
(Reporting by Reuters Television's Gershon Peaks; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Peter Cooney)