Students take turns traying down a slope outside Taylor Hall in this archival photo dated circa 1980s. Let us know if you recognize yourself!
Something special happens when the first snowfall blankets the Kent Campus. The familiar landscape turns into a winter wonderland, and college students tap into their inner child as they seek some snow-inspired fun.
A beloved pastime at Kent State University, tray sledding (or traying) is one way to overcome the winter blahs and take a quick break from studying. The concept is simple: “borrow” a dining hall tray, find a snow-laden hill, sit on the tray and—whoosh!
While no one knows the exact origin or date that tray sledding came to campus, The Kent Stater (formerly The Daily Kent Stater) has reported on it since the 1950s. And in many articles—including Kent State bucket lists from 2011 and 2016—tray sledding is portrayed as a rite of passage on campus.
“My goal as a student engaged in this popular winter activity was to join ‘the elite’ of the tray sliders—the ones who were able to get all the way down the hill standing on one tray!” recalls Tim Martin, BA ’84, Uniontown, Ohio.
Popular sledding spots remain the slopes of front campus and Blanket Hill. Trays are still available in the Kent State dining halls, but to-go containers and other dishware options have reduced their use. In lieu of trays, some students find other means of transportation, including plastic bags, trash can lids, snowboards and store-bought sleds.
While the method of sledding may change, the point remains the same: comradery, good old-fashioned fun and the chance for a thrilling downhill glide. —Bethany Sava, BS ’12
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