By Della Hasselle and Michael Ventura
CENTRAL PARK — With the city covered in snow, many Manhattanites headed outdoors for sledding, free hot chocolate and some winter fun.
To celebrate the snow day, the Parks Department gave out small blue and green plastic sleds and hot cocoa to dozens of cold, but excited, kids and parents who had come to frolic in the snowy hills of Riverside Park at 103rd street.
"It's an amazing day today," assistant commissioner for public programs Annika Holder said after she made the hot cocoa Monday.
"To me, it's really nice to provide an opportunity for the kids to enjoy the outdoors, and the hot chocolate makes it even better," she said. "It's a way for them to have fun and get exercise."
Parents who came to the park to sled with their kids agreed.
"It's great. It's actually really nice, with the sun shining on the hill and the free hot chocolate," Upper West Side resident Emily Nelson said, standing next to her sons Gavin, 5, and Eli, 3.
"And our kids love it, naturally. It's a fabulous way to bring the community together."
The free festivities lasted until 3 p.m., but families gathered in Central Park throughout the day to enjoy the winter atmosphere.
"I like that the city's covered with snow because you can just sleigh," said Colin McVeigh, 11, of the Upper East Side who was sledding in Central Park. "I like going sledding. I wish it was like this every day because then there'd be no school."
Most schools were already closed for winter break before the blizzard blasted the city.
Marta Ricardo, 40, who works at Columbia Law School, brought her sons Nicholas, 7, and Tomas, 10, to Central Park for sledding.
"Its a nice break, it's beautiful and the city is always gorgeous when it snows like this," Ricardo said. "Everything is clean for a brief moment in time."
Charlotte Cebula, 9, of the Upper East Side was also enjoying sledding Monday morning, but looked forward to throwing snowballs later on.
"The snow's so deep," she said. "We've just been sledding all day and it's only scary when you're about to fall down."