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Christmas comes early at Stone Mountain

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Stone Mountain Christmas kicks off this weekend with thousands of lights, live holiday shows and the park's Snow Angel.

If you go

• What: Stone Mountain’s Christmas

• When: Opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 1. For dates at times, visit website.

• Where: Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain

• Cost: Price included with an Adventure Pass — $28 for adults and $22 for children (age 3 to 11), plus $10 parking pass

• For more information: Visit festivals.stonemountainpark.com

STONE MOUNTAIN -- The turkey hasn't been cut yet, but Stone Mountain Park is prepared for Christmas. On Saturday, the park opens its gate to a winter wonderland for the annual Stone Mountain Christmas celebration.

Since July, employees have been hanging and stapling 2 million Christmas lights throughout the park -- and this year, they changed all of the tiny twinklers to LED to save energy.

"As soon as we shoot off the Fourth of July fireworks, we start putting up Christmas lights," said Jeanine Jones, public relations manager Stone Mountain Park. "We don't just put the outline of the building, we do every board on the building. We light up Stone Mountain Park."

From Saturday until January, the park has a magnitude of festivities for the holidays. There are performances, music and storytelling suitable for the entire family, including "Forever Christmas," the new live show.

"Basically it will please everyone in the whole family ... grandma and grandpa to mom and dad, plus the children," Jones said.

The musical revue starts out with classic songs like "White Christmas," "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Man With The Bag," then the set completely changes to modern Christmas renditions by Justin Bieber and Jennifer Hudson.

"Halfway through the show, the stage changes in front of the audience's eyes," Jones said. "It goes from being in the 1950s to 2012."

Every night, Santa Claus and his crew parade down the streets, the Snow Angel sprinkles snow dust on the crowd and fireworks are shot into the air to end the evening.

"I love the nightly parade," Jones said. "It makes me feel like a kid again. It's one of my favorite things about Christmas at the park."

Snow Mountain, the park's man-made snow slope, will be open on Nov. 19, one week earlier than last year.

"The kids are out of school for the week of Thanksgiving and those days are heavily attended days to us," Jones said. "We wanted to open Snow Mountain earlier so people would get more out of the purchase of their tickets."

In honor of Veterans Day, the park is offering free tickets during the opening weekend to all active and retired military employees with a valid ID. They can also receive an extra $10 off each ticket for each family member present.