Child playing on snowy playground slide

A child plays on a snowy playground slide on Jan. 2 in Bowmanville, Chicago. (Photo: Sandor Weisz/Flickr)

Children rejoiced and travelers let out a collective groan as the year's first major snowstorm, dubbed "Hercules," closed public schools and grounded more than 2,300 flights across Chicago, Boston and New York City.

The storm was so intense that Massachusetts —which received up to 2 feet in some areas — temporarily closed its state government, while New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency.

While many resigned themselves to ride out the weather in the comfort of their warm homes, here's how some folks (and animals!) spent their snow days.

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Man brushes snow and ice off car windshield

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ferdinand Barrios clears snow from his truck on Jan. 2 after the massive snowstorm passed through Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.

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Fat squirrel in the snow

Photo: Corey Seeman/Flickr

A plump squirrel plops down in the snow and nibbles on a nut on Jan. 2 in the University of Michigan's Diag in Ann Arbor.

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A person walks a walk across a snowy road

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A person walks a bicycle along a glittering, snow-covered street on Jan. 2 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

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Snow whips up in the wind along Winthrop Shore Drive

Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Wispy winds whip snow from the beach across Winthrop Shore Drive on Jan. 2 in Winthrop, Mass.

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Tree in West Virginia wearing a knitted sweater

Photo: Elizabeth Cohen

It's so cold, even the trees are wearing sweaters!

This unique temporary installation project at West Virginia University in Morgantown uses an open stitch to allow the tree to breathe without damaging growth.

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Divvy rental bicycles are closed due to snow

Photo: Andrew Seaman/Flickr

A fleet of Chicago's new Divvy rental bicycles are seen partially buried under a blanket of snow in Lincoln Square.

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Couple walking through a snowy Times Square

Photo: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

A couple walks along the snowy streets of Times Square on Jan. 2, just hours before 9 inches of snow were dumped on New York City.

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Icicles shine against a bright blue sky

Photo: Sean McMenemy/Flickr

After heavy snowfall the day before, fresh icicles hang against a sunny, bright blue sky in Lombard, Ill.

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Man walks with dog as blowing snow whips behind them

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A man and his dog contend with blowing snow in Brooklyn on Jan. 3, the morning after snow blanketed the region.

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Snowy scene in Morgantown, West Virginia

Photo: Benyamin Cohen/MNN

Morning snow blankets Krepps Park in Morgantown, W. Va, where it's a bone-chilling 10 degrees.

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Kids play in the snow

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Kids sled down a snowy hill on Jan. 2 in Chicago's Humboldt Park.

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
Snowstorm of Herculean proportions hits U.S.
The season's first major snowstorm, dubbed "Hercules," closed public schools and grounded flights in 3 major U.S. cities.