STONE MOUNTAIN -- Saturday, several acres of Stone Mountain Park were transformed into a winter wonderland.
On opening day for Snow Mountain, children of all ages -- and quite a few adults -- spent their time tubing down a 400-foot slope, cooking s'mores over a bonfire and building snowmen.
State-of-the-art technology is credited for being able to take water from Stone Mountain Lake, turn it into snow and return it to the lake after all the fun is had.
Park marketing manager Laura Ramos said people's desire for a white (day after) Christmas is the reason Snow Mountain opened up a few days earlier than in 2008, it's inaugural year.
"In 2006, an online study showed that about 70 percent of Atlanta kids have never seen snow and only 40 percent of families have experienced snow together," Ramos said.
Orlando, Fla., resident Jeremy Maloney and his family fit that mold. A New York native, Maloney has seen plenty of snow in his day. Though his 3-year-old daughter, Carly, has never seen so much as a flake, she looked like a seasoned pro Saturday, crafting picture-perfect snow angels while her mother and brother tossed snowballs.
"She just learned that last night," Maloney said, with a laugh. "She got it from watching 'Marley and Me.'"
Fayetteville's Derrik Byrd brought his two children, Mariah and Quentin, both 11. Or maybe they brought him.
Both children agreed that the high-speed, downhill tubing was the highlight of their day. Mariah said she also enjoyed throwing snowballs at her brother while Quentin, when he wasn't ducking, preferred to hang out in front of the "snow shooter."
"When the snow falls onto you, it's just so much fun," Quentin said.
For Byrd, the outing was all about spending quality time in an environment that Mother Nature doesn't very often provide here.
"It's a nice, fun outdoor event where it's safe and we can enjoy time together as a family," Byrd said.
Just down the hill from Snow Mountain were more holiday festivals, as carols filled the air, treating those not quite ready to let go of the holiday spirit to a Christmas celebration.
Through Wednesday the park will continue to put on Stone Mountain Christmas, a celebration that offers a Summit Skyride to the mountain top, nightly Christmas parades and adventure to the North Pole with the Polar Express 4-D.
Ramos said the park is offering a package deal for both attractions. While a Stone Mountain Christmas is winding down, Snow Mountain will be up and running through March 7.
Park officials recommend reserving tickets online at www.snowmountainpark.com.