New York City parents make first snowstorm an unofficial snow day for children

Children enjoy sledding in Stuyvesant Town.
Photo by Dean Moses

From the COVID-19 virus that has left over 24,000 New Yorkers dead and countless more out of work to the Black Lives Matter protests which have created a larger disconnect between the NYPD and communities of color after violent clashes, 2020 will go down in the history books as an unprecedented year. 

Small businesses have struggled, schools have been a revolving door of closures and openings, and terms such as social distancing have entered our lexicon. After all of this, after almost a year of self-isolating and working from home and through Zoom, New Yorkers emerged on Dec. 17 to revel in what marked the first snowstorm of the pandemic.

Snowball fights were the game of the day. Photo by Dean Moses

Although snow days are not technically in effect due to students learning remotely, parents decided to play mayor themselves on Friday by dubbing it a snow day, amending de Blasio’s official verdict. Many young scholars were given loose deadlines for the day, allowing families to come together in a way they have not been able to for nine months. Since the early morning, snowballs flew through the air, children roared with laughter as they whizzed down carpeted white embankments, snowmen popped up all over the city, and just for one day, it was 2019 again.

The decision to kick back and enjoy the blizzard’s aftermath was not clear cut for everybody, though. Sarita Ekya, owner of Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese (S’MAC) and Stuyvesant Town resident, was apprehensive about her two children missing even more school this year, ultimately, she decided they all needed this time together.

A young girl carries a pile of snow. Photo by Dean Moses

“As soon as we found out there was going to be snow, my husband looked at me and said: ‘Snow day?’ I was like, ‘Should we?’ Schools are not closed but I was also told there was not going to be any new work, so once we saw that I knew what we were doing. I emailed our third grader’s teacher and was like ‘Listen, I am going to be frank, we are doing a snow day because it has been one of those years,’” Ekya said. 

Like Ekya, Mira Espinal also basked in a brief moment with her daughter. She has felt the wrath of 2020 in a very harsh way after her husband was let go from his job.

“Luckily I still have a job, we make ends meet, our family is healthy—that is most important,” Espinal said, sharing that her 10-year-old daughter, Emily, was given permission from her teacher to take a step back from the computer screen and enjoy the snow.

“It feels good to play in the snow!” Emily yelled, kicking up a flurry.

Emily Espinal kicked up some snow. Photo by Dean Moses

The day wasn’t all fun and games for everybody, though. Many business owners spent the morning shoveling the sidewalk in the frigid temperatures, hoping to make way for potential customers. City workers also spent hours with trowels in hand, while others manned snowplows, ensuring safe passage for citizens to get around.    

A street cleaner makes way on Union Square. Photo by Dean Moses

An almost audible sigh of relief could be felt by New York City as the cries of laughter once again rang out between the ice ridden skyscrapers, a sound that has become foreign to many here. Perhaps the bright, white snow marks the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel as we approach the New Year.

Union Square Park is filled with a blanket of snow. Photo by Dean Moses