I heard a report on the radio this morning that the Parks Department is putting hay bales around trees in Riverside Park to prevent children from sledding into them. Well, I suppose it's a more efficient method than making Ethan Frome mandatory reading (maybe it still is?).
When I was growing up in southeastern Connecticut, we were lucky to have a sledding run in Avery Cemetery, just at the edge of our neighborhood. The center alley led straight downhill to Avery (what else?) Pond. Did anyone worry about us running headfirst into a gravestone? Or whether the ice on the pond was thick enough? I suppose they did, but it came with the territory of childhood, at least as it was mapped out in those days. (Come to think of it, nobody questioned the propriety of sledding in a cemetery either, and a historic one at that.)
The sleds my brothers and sisters used were not particularly fast but they were very cool. Brought back by my parents from Germany, they were more like wooden platforms above the snow. Like the one in the Joseph Beuys's piece above, but without the blanket, flashlight, and hunk of fat (though the piece does make me think our sleds were designed for work not speed).
Schlitten fahren, kinder, while the schlitten fahren is gut!