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Obama Chides Washingtonians for Taking a Snow Day

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted: Jan 29th 2009 9:00AM

Filed under: Environment, News

President Obama has ticked off a lot of kids in the Washington, D.C. area who wore their clothes inside out and backwards to usher in a snow day.

Snow and ice hit the region this week, causing schools in the District and surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia to close.

Sidwell Friends, the private Washington school Obama's daughters Sash and Malia attend, was one of several that closed Wednesday.

Obama grew up in Hawaii but he's been living in Chicago, a city where snow doesn't mean a snow day, for many years. Speaking before a meeting in the White House, he seemed shocked that "some ice" had closed down his daughters' schools.

"We're going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town," Obama said, according to an article in The Washington Post.

According to Politico, a reporter asked the president if he was saying Washingtonians were wimps.Obama answered tactfully: "I'm saying that went it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don't seem to be able to handle things." You can watch the video here.

I'm a native of Montgomery County, Maryland, which borders the District of Columbia, so I am very familiar with the area's knee-jerk school closures for snow.

Children who grew up in the D.C. metro region with the belief that wearing pajamas inside out and backwards would yield a snow day very often had their wishes come true.

I can remember, very distinctly, a winter day when I was in grade school, and class was cancelled at midday due to the chance of snow.

The region does get very heavy snow and ice at times, however. Even in those cases, school closures were extreme. There were times when I was in high school when we we would get a foot of snow, then have school off for an entire week.

Poking fun at the region's love of snow days was a risky move for Obama, the new guy in town. Many Washingtonians are very defensive of their need to stay home when it snows.

When I checked the Washington Post's Web site around midnight Wednesday, the article about Obama's comments on snowy Washington was one of the most viewed articles, only falling behind a story about the House passing the stimulus bill.

In the course of my 13 years of education in Maryland, I had a lot of snow days, so take it from me, Sasha and Malia: Over the next four years, while students in heartier parts of the country trudge to school, you are going to be making a lot of snowmen on the White House lawn.

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