UNION SQUARE — Three-year-old Samantha Darnell got her first taste of snowboarding on Thursday morning — in Union Square.
Held upright by two grown-up instructors, Darnell stood on top of a man-made snow mound and screamed "Drop!" before sliding down the mini-mountain, her curly brown hair blowing in her face.
"She loved it," said Cassie Johnson, 26, the girl's nanny.
Darnell's favorite part?
"The mountain!" she screamed.
Union Square became the unlikely site of many children’s first encounters with snowboarding, as representatives from upstate ski resorts hauled in four dump trucks of man-made snow to create a miniature slope in the concrete park.
The purpose of the event was to remind New Yorkers that, despite a stubbornly warm winter, the state’s ski resorts are still open for business.
"When we have a marginal snow year like this, it affects us," said Scott Brandi, president of the Ski Areas of New York, an organization that represents some 40 upstate resorts. "You don’t need snow in the city, much less in the mountains…to have good conditions."
All the snow piled on the southeast corner of Union Square Thursday was made less than 48 hours before the event, Brandi said, and workers tilled and combed the mound throughout the afternoon to keep it fresh for eager youngsters itching to take their first ride on a snowboard.
Xander Latimer, 2, comes from a family of snowboarders, said his mother, Sheila Latimer, 38. His 5-year-old brother is already snowboarding, and Xander also embraced his first-ever run in Union Square.
"He loves it because he’s trying to do everything his brother does," Latimer said.
Allison Shah was heading to the park inside Union Square Park with her 3-year-old son, Ryan, on Thursday when she spotted the snow pile.
"This was a great introduction, actually," said Shah, after Ryan had taken a few trips down the slope.
"This is so fun," she added. "It makes me wish for snow."