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Winter playground
Snow Mountain opens to large crowds, long lines

STONE MOUNTAIN - After tubing down Snow Mountain, Jacob Hulsey was beaming.

"It was as exciting as Christmas morning," the 18-year-old Alabama resident said.

Hulsey and other members of the Valley Grande Baptist Church were among the thousands who visited Stone Mountain Park's newest attraction on New Year's Eve, the day Snow Mountain opened.

The snow park features a 400-foot tubing hill and a 30,000-square-foot play area, where visitors can throw snowballs at targets and build snowmen. There are 6,000 tons of snow in the park, which is open until Monday and on weekends until March 1, said Kelley Swann, Stone Mountain Park's coordinator of public relations.

Tubing is offered in two-hour sessions, and advanced registration is recommended, as space is limited, Swann said. Reservations can be made online at www.snowmountainpark.com.

Some visitors, including many who traveled from other states, expressed disappointment with the Tube Racers attraction, where a long line limited the number of times they could slide down the slope.

Athens resident Kelly Simmons said she had to wait in the Tube Racers line for an hour - half of her reserved tubing time - before her first run. She said the ride down was fun, but she thought the attraction had been misrepresented in its description.

Swann said the park was aware of the complaints and is working on fixing the kinks.

"We're doing everything we can to make our guests happy. They don't enjoy the wait, but they definitely enjoy the tubing and the snow," Swann said. "Our mission is to make memories worth repeating, and we'll do everything we can to make that happen."

The long wait aside, nearly everyone appeared to be enjoying the snow.

Beth Ledbetter, an Alabama resident, said the park provided an opportunity for her to allow her 4-year-old and 8-year-old to play in the snow without traveling too far from home.

"We don't see enough (snow) to play in," she said. "I thought it would be fun for the kids to see enough to play in and make snowmen in."

Gianna DiBella had her first experience in the snow on Wednesday. The 20-month-old traveled to Snow Mountain with her parents, Sal and Kim, from Pensacola, Fla.

"So far she loves it," Kim DiBella said. "It's so much different

than playing in beach sand."

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