That’s despite a recent spate of publicity over a growing number of cities banning sledding over liability concerns, most recently Dubuque, Iowa..
But that’s not likely to spread to Minnesota because of a clause in state law known as recreational immunity. It basically shields governments in Minnesota that operate park and recreational facilities from liability under most circumstances.
With parks accounting for many of the best sledding hills in Minneapolis, Park Superintendent Jayne Miller said there are no plans to put its slippery slopes off limits. Nor has the city attorney's office gotten wind of anyone in City Hall proposing that.
The Park Board has two official designated sledding hills – at Columbia Golf Course and Sunset Hill in Valley View Park. Where there are man-made structures at those hills, it places hay bales around them. But the doctrine of recreational immunity protects it from any liability caused by natural objects such as trees, Miller said.
Sledders are free to use other parkland for slip-sliding away but ought not to expect damages if they’re hurt, due to the law. Indeed, the hill in Lyndale Farmstead behind the house Miller rents from the Park Board is one of the city's most popular sledding hills.
Not that you can’t get hurt sledding. One national database reports an average of almost 21,000 sledding injuries annually. Broken bones slightly exceeded bruises and scrapes in those stats, with about one-third of injuries involving heads.
At least one powerful parks pol, Park Board President Liz Wielinski, dismisses cities that have passed bans. “As a native-born and bred Minnesotan, I think that’s crazy talk,” Wielinski said.