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Fun on a wintry snow day

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Updated: April 7, 2013 6:23AM

As the snowplows took to the streets, Fox Valley residents headed for the hills.

Just off Kautz Road in Aurora’s Oakhurst Community Park, two mothers huddled together at the bottom of a hill Tuesday as they watched their four young daughters careen down on sleds.

“We’ve been coming here since forever,” said Victoria Pachecho, whose children attend McCarty Elementary School in the Indian Prairie School District, which had its first snow day of the year on Tuesday.

“Our school doesn’t call off that often,” Pachecho said, just before dashing up the hill with her daughter to take a turn on the sled herself.

Nearly every school in the Fox Valley — save for East Aurora, which does not bus its students — closed ahead of Tuesday’s snowfall, which meteorologists expected early on to be the largest snowfall of the year. The National Weather Service estimated snow accumulation at 7 to 10 inches, with localized amounts up to a foot.

As about a dozen children decked in snow jackets and boots played on the hill, Indy Vazquez and his 6-year-old daughter Aundrea, who was off from Calvary Christian School of Naperville, took a break from sledding to build their first snowman of the season. Topped with an orange and blue Chicago Bears hat, the snowman was obviously a sports fan.

“This is fun, it makes me feel young again,” Vazquez said as Aundrea gathered more pinecones for the snowman’s face and buttons. “I wanted to beat the crowd, it’s not too bad now.”

Fine weather for elk

Even the elk had a snow day without pesky humans watching them at Aurora’s Phillips Park Zoo.

“We just can’t keep up with clearing the snow,” said Zoo Manager Randy Johnson about the icy walkways throughout the park.

Johnson said the zoo has few animals who don’t enjoy a bit of snow. “The reptiles, but they’re inside where it’s 80 degrees,” Johnson said. “Everyone else adapts pretty well to the conditions. The wolves and the mountain lions love it.”

At the downtown Aurora Public Library, the children’s section was fairly busy until noon, when foot traffic came to a lull. By afternoon, as the snow continued to fall, only a few patrons wandered in and out of the building or curled up in chairs with a book as library workers prepared to close up shop five hours early.

“Sometimes it does seem like the worse the weather, the more people come,” said Elizabeth Elsbree as she worked the children’s area circulation desk. But that wasn’t the case Tuesday, as only a few families stopped by to stock up on reading materials.

While students had the day off, public works crews were hard at work. Aurora’s snow plows and salt trucks started their day at 4 a.m. Tuesday, salting down major roadways. By early afternoon, 35 pieces of snow removal equipment were clearing streets, according to city spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

Meetings canceled

Official municipal business was also put on hold because of the snow across the Fox Valley on Tuesday.

The Aurora City Council canceled its Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, and instead, aldermen will hold back-to-back Committee of the Whole and City Council meetings on March 12, at 5 and 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s Oswego Village Board meeting was also canceled because of the snow.

The snowstorm also interrupted statewide plans for an emergency preparedness drill scheduled for Tuesday. As a result, tornado sirens will sound at 10 a.m. today. At that time, an actual Tornado Warning, with test wording inserted throughout, will be issued by the Illinois National Weather Service Offices for all 102 counties in the state.

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