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Central Park Transformed into Snowy Wonderland for Winter Jam

By  Paul Lomax and Jess Wisloski | January 27, 2013 1:03pm 

UPPER EAST SIDE — Hundreds of New Yorkers spent Saturday frolicking in the snow, and they didn't even need to leave the island of Manhattan.

Hosted by the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and sponsored by outdoor gear, recreation, and food companies, as well as DNAinfo.com New York, the event brought winter sports activities that are normally dependent on the white stuff right to the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park.

Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and even a ski rail jam were set up for New Yorkers to try for free, and Olympians were on hand courtesy of Lake Placid and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

"This is an absolutely spectacular day. We're hoping to get all the kids out in the wintertime and to [have them] come and learn to ski and snowboard," said Dick Coe, 66, the  director of Youth Initiatives for the U.S. Ski & Snowboarding Association.

"Also, it's a chance for New Yorkers to come and see what winter sports are all about and to try some of the activities that we have here today."

Arialist and freestyle skiier Ashley Caldwell, 19, a former gymnast and now a member of the Olympic ski team, was on hand to give kids a boost of courage.

"[I'm here] to help get kids out to have fun in the snow, which is what I love to do, and I think today is really a lot of fun."

Though kids ruled the day, enjoying sleds most of all in the snow, there was plenty to keep grown-ups interested.

Ashley Johnson, 31, an architect, said it was a unique workout. "I came here today to have some fun and also to get some exercise in the snow."

He friend, Marina Berby, 28, a PhD student, agreed. "This is really cool and today is a lot warmer that I thought it was going to be so I might hang out for a little longer," she said.