Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park heating up -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park heating up

June 30, 2006

Crisp County-- Break out the grills and the swimgear, The Fourth of July weekend is here. While some families might head to the beach, many south Georgians find everything they need for a great holiday weekend at a star attraction closer to home.  

One of the many things the state of Georgia is known for is it's more than 60 state parks. Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park in Crisp County often takes the title as the most visited park in the state. This year will most likely be no exception as people used the 30th to get an early start to the 4th.

The Fourth of July weekend is heating up at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park.  The sky is clear and jet skis are flying. Linda Nelson found herself a new favorite place.

"I was just admiring the view over there," says Nelson. She and her family came to Lake Blackshear from Hawkinsville. They're getting an early start and splash on the holiday.

"Gonna swim a little bit. We got some hotdogs, sodas, chips, that kind of thing," says Nelson. And that kind of thing is spreading all over the park and lake.  The Paulk family has an even better view from way out on the water.

"Riding out on the boat, entertaining the kids and and hanging out with friends and family," says Tiffany Paulk. And soon they won't be alone.  The waters will be filled with many more friends and families before the weekend ends. "Looks like it's going to be a warm one this weekend. Expecting quite a few people to come in," says Park Manager Craig McInvale.

Last year, between 15 and 20,000 people visited the park on the Fourth of July alone. Park Manager Craig McInvale says people come from all over the Southeast. "Two of the largest states of course being Georgia, Florida. We have a lot of folks from the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee," says McInvale.

This year could be even bigger with more activites and a new marina.  Boaters just can't resist the sparkling waters.

"I like the water.  Bring my pontoon out. We always have a good time out here, sure do," says Dick Bivins. And it's the same lake and park that has united families for decades.

"I love family. I love getting together with family," says Nelson. Although they started their celebration early, the Nelson family doesn't want this 4th of July to end. "We'll be out here probably until dark," says Nelson.

Since it will be a busy weekend, the park reminds everyone to be safe and watch out for people around you in the water and as you drive around the park.

Last year, the park's visitation for the entire year was right at 1 million people. The number one spot in the State Park system was taken by Unicoi State Park last year.