Once it snowed, the situation went downhill fast

Jeremiah Jeffcoat, 12, of New London, glides down a hill along Crystal Avenue in New London on Sunday. The first significant snowfall of the season left nearly a foot of snow in parts of the region.
Jeremiah Jeffcoat, 12, of New London, glides down a hill along Crystal Avenue in New London on Sunday. The first significant snowfall of the season left nearly a foot of snow in parts of the region. Tim Martin/The Day

Norwich — When it snows, residents here and in surrounding towns know it's time to hit the Norwich Golf Course.

"This is the best spot in eastern Connecticut," said Billy Brewer of Griswold.

He and his son, Matthew Brewer, 7, a first-grader at Sacred Heart School in Taftville, were among about three dozen people who endured cold wind and blowing snow to hit the links with inflated snow tubes, snowboards, snow scooters and all manner of traditional sleds Sunday.

"This is what life's all about," Billy Brewer said. "How can you stay home and play video games on a day like this?"

Snowfall totals from Saturday's snowstorm varied widely in New London County, with nearly a foot of snow falling here and in nearby towns such as Montville but less along the shore.

Police, firefighters and ambulances were kept busy Saturday with a steady flow of fender benders, some caused by excessive speed or slick snow drifts in the roadways. No major injuries were reported as a result of the crashes, though four people were taken to the Lawrence & Hospital with minor injuries after their car rolled over Sunday afternoon on the southbound side of Interstate 395 in Waterford.

The same strong gusts of wind that blew around the snow also toppled trees in places like Groton and Ledyard, where crews worked in the biting winds to repair power lines.

But none of that mattered at the Norwich Golf Course, where the hill just off the main parking lot at the golf course was streaked with sled trails, the packed snow making the run even faster for those arriving later in the morning. Xavier Loomis, 7, of Norwich asked his father, Joe Loomis, for a push. It took just one gentle shove and Xavier soon was gliding smoothly to the bottom of the hill.

"Good job, buddy!" his dad shouted.

His sister, Briana, 10, was trying to figure out the snow scooter. Dad offered to show her how it worked, but about 20 feet down the hill he took a soft tumble in snow nearly a foot deep.

Peter and Kristin Lems of Norwich brought their 6-year-old daughter, Isabelle, to the golf course hill, which is the first hole when the weather is a bit more hospitable for golf.

"She loves adventure," her mother said, crossing her arms and bracing against the biting wind.

The Brewers had a different adventurous plan. Billy Brewer told his son that they would slide down this hill and then follow several other sliders to the next hill, where the second golf course hole offered a steeper hill.

"This is a baby hill," Billy Brewer said.

While families enjoyed the holiday weekend storm, getting the chance to use new sleds received for Christmas, others woke up to more onerous duties Sunday morning.

Ralph Parsons, 55, said he looked out his apartment window at the Wauregan Hotel at the corner of Main Street and Broadway in Norwich and saw that the sidewalk in front of the Catholic Charities building on Main Street was not really shoveled. Someone had made a narrow path the width of one shovel, but Parsons said he knows the agency needs the entire sidewalk cleared.

Parsons cheerfully took on the task and soon was greeted by Catholic Charities Administrative Manager Nancy DePietro, relieved because the person who was supposed to shovel the walk hadn't yet made it to the office.

Parsons, who volunteers six days a week at the nearby St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen, said he was pleased to do the job, since he had done it a year earlier. He also made sure to clear two sections from the thick, packed snow plow banks to allow people to cross the street without climbing over the bank.

"I've had jobs driving trucks. This is the best job I've ever had," he said, referring to his volunteer work.

Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Mike Pigott said Sunday that cold weather will continue today with some scattered flurries and even light snow during the evening. Daytime highs in the mid- to high 30s will fall back to below freezing by tonight.

The average high temperature this time of the year is 40 degrees and the average low is 24 degrees, making the last several weeks above normal and temperatures for the next few days "seasonably cold," Pigott said.

The forecast for New Year's Day is a high of 39, colder inland, with a chance of flurries.

A shot of dry arctic air will move into the area on Wednesday and linger through Friday, bringing temperatures in the 20s. More cold weather is on tap for Sunday.

Day Staff Writer Greg Smith contributed to this report.

c.bessette@theday.com

g.smith@theday.com

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