It looked as though a blizzard had let loose Thursday on the playground at Horace Mann preschool. Ten tons of snow smothered what had once been a patch of dry grass, and ice stuck to the length of a spindly tree.
But overhead, blue sky peeked through some wispy clouds, and the thermometer registered 51 degrees.
The anomaly didn’t stop Horace Mann students from charging the powdery white heap, where they were soon frolicking like a scene out of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.”
“I got it on my tongue,” 4-year-old Aidan Means said before dashing off to start work on a snowman.
The snow scene was part of the preschool’s annual Winter Week celebration, a long-running tradition in which the students explore the joys of the winter season. It includes a winter wonderland picnic where the yard is decorated with paper snowflakes, a movie day and ice-melting activities.
But the highlight of the week is Snow Day, where the Horace Mann Parents Assn. pays to truck in tons of snow, transforming the playground from a traditional schoolyard to a winter paradise.
“It is a tradition,” said Michelle Means, Aidan’s mother and secretary of the association. “It is one of those things that the kids look forward to all year. They talk about it for weeks after.”
Parents and staff members, whose numbers equaled those of the students, didn’t hesitate to get in on the action, slipping and sliding across the powdery patch, and bending over to help with snowmen.
“We actually went skiing over Christmas up to Tahoe,” said preschool mother Laurel Demmert.
But as her daughters Sadie and Maddy raced up and down the patch of snow, flinging handfuls of white powder at one another, it was clear the novelty hadn’t worn off.
“Snow is always fun for a kid,” Demmert said.
For many of the students, who range in age from 3 months to 4 years old, it is their first experience with snow, said Director Paula Lamar. For others, it is the only time they will play in the snow all year.
“We strive hard to bring the community and families together,” Lamar said.