Friday, May 29, 2009

JetAmerica $9 Ticket Sales Soar

/PRNewswire / -- The following is being issued by Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority:

JetAmerica, the nation's newest air service, which is offering one-way non-stop fares for as low as $9, reports that 48 hours after its e-commerce website - - went active at 12:01 a.m. May 27, 2009 that ticket sales reached 12,000 just after midnight May 29, 2009.

JetAmerica spokesperson Bryan Glazer said, "The seat sales surge was sparked in the eleventh hour by NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno's Thursday night monologue wisecrack, "A new airline, JetAmerica, announced they're gonna be in operations with ticket prices as low as $9 on flights from Toledo to Newark. Nine bucks to fly from Toledo to Newark. The bad news is you wind up in Toledo or Newark."

Apparently the joke was sparked by a recent story by New York Post reporter Jeremy Olshan about JetAmerica's $9 fares. Olshan jibed that the cost of a flight from Toledo was less expensive than a ride across the Verazzano Narrows Bridge. The tabloid journalist also poked fun at JetAmerica's medium-sized Midwestern metro area markets. He joked that they are "hot spot" destinations.

"Toledoans invite Mr. Leno to fly JetAmerica from Toledo Express Airport to New York where we will take him on a $9 shopping spree through the trendiest retail districts of Manhattan and see how far nine greenbacks go -- probably not as far as a one-way flight on JetAmerica from the 'Glass City' to 'The Big Apple,' which is 438 nautical miles," said, with tongue-in-cheek, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Stolarczyk.

"Since Mr. Leno has probably not been to Toledo since his days as a traveling stand-up comedian, we'd also like to give him a $9 shopping spree along the shores of the mighty Maumee River."

Stolarczyk recommends that the retiring King of Late Night, soon to become Prince of Primetime television, spends his $9 at Toledo's beloved Tony Packo's Hungarian Hot Dog House. It was made famous by the cross-dressing character corporal Max Klinger in the classic 1970's TV sit-com M*A*S*H. Stolarczyk said, "The world-renowned hot doggery has catered to celebrities and royalty from around the globe, all of whom autograph their buns and display them on the eatery's walls."

Owner Tony Packo III whose grandfather started selling the famous franks in 1932 said, "I've got autographed buns from presidents, athletes and celebrities including Leno's predecessor Johnny Carson and former Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen -- but not from Jay."

When asked for suggestions on how Leno might wisely spend $9 at one of his five Toledo gourmet wieneries, the 36-year-old Packo said, "I recommend the popular 'Mother Dog.' It is one foot long, weighs one pound, is cradled in a 12-inch bun and smothered with onions and mustard. The price is $8.99, tax included. If he wants to wash it down with a soft drink he'll blow his budget."

JetAmerica's $9 seats don't include taxes and surcharges and sodas cost $2 a can. Despite these extra fees, which are also charged by most other air carriers, JetAmerica is selling seats like "hot cakes" since its announcement earlier this week.

Glazer said, "We are forecasting at least 20,000 confirmed reservations by next week once television commercials hit the air in our focus markets of Toledo, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Melbourne, Florida; and South Bend, Indiana. The most recent sales figures show that people living within 75 miles of Toledo Express Airport led the way with the most online reservations because JetAmerica has more flights in and out of that airport," said Stolarczyk.

Those flights include six weekly roundtrip non-stops from Toledo to New York/Newark Liberty International. JetAmerica is also flying roundtrips several times per week from Toledo to Florida's Space Coast and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

"Jet America is also selling a slew of roundtrip seats from Newark to South Bend, Lansing and Toledo so that Notre Dame University, Michigan State University and University of Michigan alumni living in the New York metropolitan area can catch non-stop flights close to their respective alma maters for the upcoming collegiate football season, which starts September 5, 2009 and ends November 28, 2009," said Glazer.

The Alumni Associations of all three Big 10 conference schools report that more than a half million of their graduates reside in the Tri-State Area (NY/NJ/CT). Approximately 75,000 of them fly back to the Midwest to attend home football games.

"Toledo-bound flights are selling quickly because University of Michigan faithful football fans flying to Ann Arbor for The Wolverines' 11 home games are tired of dealing with delays at Detroit Metro Airport," said Glazer. "When you factor in the mileage to the Michigan campus, along with traffic snarls, it's a whole lot quicker to fly from New York to Toledo and then drive to Ann Arbor, Michigan."

"It appears that business travelers are also booking online knowing they can depart Toledo at 6 a.m. and be at their Midtown Manhattan meetings by 9 a.m. and then fly back home in time to sit down for a late dinner," said Stolarczyk.

JetAmerica is offering from nine to 19 seats at a cost of $9 one-way on every flight. On average, most seats range in price from $49 to $79 one-way. The most expensive fares top-off at about $199. Taxes and surcharges are additional.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

36th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Hot Air Balloon Race Starts June 4

T2F Note: Helen is such a delightful place to visit anytime of the year. Our staff has enjoyed Helen since the 1970s. The hot air balloon race in Helen is the recipient of this week's highly coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award.

June 4, 5, 6, 2009

"From the center of the world to the edge of the Earth"

The long distance race to the Atlantic begins, weather permitting, at 7:00 AM Thursday, June 4th, 2009. If it is too windy or storms are forecast, take-off will be postponed until conditions are acceptable for flight.

This race, the only long distance hot air balloon race in the world, begins in Helen, Georgia. The finish line is I-95--anywhere between Maine and Miami. If no one has crossed I-95 by 8:40 PM June 5th, the balloon closest is declared the winner. The shortest distance is 225 miles and the race usually takes two days. It has been done in one day, while some races have taken as many as four days. Six to eight balloons enter the cross country race. Prevailing winds of the area usually take the balloons southeast of Helen across South Carolina, however, contestants have finished
in North Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

While the competition to the Atlantic continues, other balloonists compete in local events beginning Thursday, continuing Friday and Saturday with approximate flight times of 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Many experiences are available to the public; assisting with inflations, being part of a chase crew or taking tethered rides.

Ballooning in Helen is especially challenging because the Alpine Village is surrounded by National Forest and State Parks. However, it is well worth the added effort when you can look down from just above the tree tops at the vast woodlands, streams and waterfalls, perhaps catch a glimpse of deer, or watch a peregrine falcon snare his dinner in flight.

The Helendorf River Inn & Conference Center is sponsor and headquarters as it has been since 1974. While at the Helendorf, the pilots, their families and crew stay busy with picnics on the patio by the river, tubing, walks to waterfalls, buggy rides, an afternoon at the amusement park or playing a round of golf, gold panning, visits to the museums and shopping.

Tarp Head, our Balloonmeister and co-sponsor, crewed for the first race in 1974. As time passed he became a contestant, winning in 1980. That year his interest in ballooning became his vocation. He formed Head Balloons, Inc. one of only five balloon manufacturers in the United States.

Common Sense Conservation, founded by Earl Miller, has co-sponsored the race for many years. In 1995, Earl achieved his goal of finishing first after many years placing 2nd and 3rd in the Helen to the Atlantic Race.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Budget-Friendly Branson Brings Back "Gas Buster" Cards

/PRNewswire / -- Responding to the current economic situation, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB is once again offering summer visitors a Gas Buster discount card. Good at dozens of live music shows, area attractions, lodging properties, retail shops and restaurants, the card is worth a total of $50 off purchases. Folks signing up for the 2009 Gas Buster discount card will also have a chance to win a Grand Prize Getaway to Branson!

"Bringing back the Gas Buster discount card, Branson is helping people save some money on their vacation. Area businesses are willing to work together so that visitors can afford to do all the things they would like to do when they come to Branson," according to Cathy Rigby, starring as Peter Pan at the Mansion Theatre. "I have six family members of all ages joining me in Branson. They are here because there is something for everyone! If you are looking for museums, theme parks, golf, lakes, along with shopping, dining and world-class entertainment, you will find it all in Branson."

Between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2009, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB will give a Gas Buster discount card to anyone who presents a valid drivers' license and a minimum of $40 in gas receipts incurred within 48 hours of their arrival at the Chamber's Welcome Center, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 65 and Missouri Highway 248 in Branson. Gas Buster card holders are automatically entered to win the grand prize 4-day/3-night vacation for four to Branson, which will be awarded on September 30, 2009.

Gas Buster discount cards and the list of participating sponsors will be issued only from the Chamber/CVB Welcome Center. Business hours are 8am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sundays. Gas Buster promotion runs from June 1 through Sept. 30, 2009. For more information, check out or call 800-214-3661.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real Resorts - Introduces the Summer of Free Family Fun

/PRNewswire/ -- Real Resorts is offering the ultimate family vacation at a stress-buster price that may make it less expensive to enjoy a Cancun or Riviera Maya vacation then to stay at home. A family of four can book a Junior Suite at the Gran Caribe Real in Cancun or The Gran Porto Real Playa del Carmen for as little as $268 per family, per night. The package includes a junior suite, all-inclusive accommodations for two adults and up to two children 12 and under; all meals; house cocktails for the adults; taxes and gratuities; and the largest variety of complimentary family activities and recreation available at any Caribbean Resort. And for larger families, up to three children can stay free when booking a Family Suite or Gran Master Suite. Teens 13-17 years old sharing a family suite receive a 40% discount. In addition, when families stay for a minimum of six nights in an oceanfront suite they will receive a complimentary 'swim with the dolphins' experience for one person, valued at $139. Additional family members can also enjoy the experience at a 50% discount.

For more information and reservations visit: or contact a travel agent.

"We are a family run business for families," says Fernando Garcia, Director General Real Resorts. "We recognize that now more than ever people need and want an affordable summer getaway and it is our pleasure to welcome families with great pricing, activities, and superb personal service that is intended to make everyone feel special," added Garcia.

In addition both the Gran Caribe Real in Cancun and the Gran Porto Real Playa del Cancun offer the "flu-free guarantee" which in the remote and very unlikely event a guest contracts the H1N1 flu virus within 14 days of visiting either resort that guest will receive a three year package of complimentary vacations.* All guests will be received with special VIP status that includes 50% savings on extra services such as treatments at the RealSPAs, private beach romantic dining, and premium liquors and wines.

*return free trips are valid one per year and will be identical to the original vacation package.- same dates, same length of stay and same accommodations. As there are many strains of H1N1, a guest who makes the claim must have it confirmed as Influenza (H1N1), and the guest must provide a positive blood result for (H1N1) by state certified laboratory dated within 14 days of checking out of resort in addition to certification by the doctor who performed the test to redeem the free 3 year return vacations with your companion. The "Flu Free Guarantee" applies to guests that travel May through October, 2009, and is for the original traveler making the claim and one additional guest. Additional details can be found on Real Resorts website at .

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vacation Rentals Growing in Popularity Among Travelers Looking for Better Value

/PRNewswire/ -- Vacation rental homes and condominiums are becoming even more attractive to consumers looking for greater value from their travel dollar, according to HomeAway - the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace - which today released the first edition of its new quarterly "HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report."

Deals, Deals and More Deals

According to the report, approximately 66 percent of vacation rental property owners are offering or have offered special deals or incentives at some point this year in response to the current economic climate.

-- 27% discount rental rates by a specific dollar amount
-- 24% offer a set percent off the normal rental rate
-- 16% offer a free night with the purchase of a specific number of
-- 15% offer free cleaning services
-- 11% do not require a minimum stay
-- 7% offer a complimentary product or service, such as tickets to a
local attraction

While travelers may come across some unique deals this summer including pre-arrival grocery shopping services and complimentary meals or gift baskets upon arrival, 34 percent of owners surveyed did not offer special deals or incentives. By way of explanation, one of those owners said, "I didn't offer anything but a great house, in a great location, at a very reasonable price."

"With or without deals or special offers, there is an underlying value to vacation rentals," said Mike Butler, chief commercial officer of HomeAway. "Vacation rental homes enable you to rent a whole home for less than the cost of a hotel room and then even stretch your travel budget further by taking advantage of the full kitchens and extra amenities."

More Value Means Longer, More Upscale Vacations

While vacation rentals are often considered for and associated with week-long trips, the HomeAway report found that travelers are using vacation rentals for everything from weekend getaways (38 percent) to multi-week vacations (21 percent). Family and group vacations continue to account for the most popular use of vacation rentals, but travelers are also considering staying in vacation properties for a range of travel, including trips typically associated with shorter stays, such as festivals, sporting events and business trips.

The report found that one in five (20 percent) property owners surveyed said over the past 12 months they have rented out their home more frequently for shorter stays lasting two to four days.

In addition to flexible lengths of stays, travelers agree that the use of vacation rentals instead of hotels allows them to enjoy a range of value-related benefits. In fact, nearly 74 percent said they are able to travel with more friends and family. Fifty percent said vacation rentals allow them to take longer vacations; 49 percent said they can take more upscale vacations; and 35 percent said vacation rentals allow them to travel more frequently.

Seeking Sunshine in Warm Weather Destinations

During the first quarter of 2009, Americans were seeking vacation rentals in primarily warm-weather destinations, according to the HomeAway report. Six out of the top 10 destinations that received the most inquiries by travelers were located in Florida. However, HomeAway found that New York was the second most-popular destination during that time period.

Top 10 Most-Popular Destinations on by total traveler inquiries, January-March 2009 are:

1. Miami, Fla.
2. New York, N.Y.
3. Florida Keys, Fla.
4. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
5. Ocean City, Md.
6. Daytona Beach, Fla.
7. Scottsdale, Ariz.
8. Anna Maria Island, Fla.
9. South Padre Island, Texas
10. St. Petersburg, Fla.

"While New York has not typically been associated with vacation rental homes, its ranking does reflect a strong trend we're seeing in travelers seeking out vacation rentals as a value alternative to hotels in large cities," Butler said.

Fastest-Growing Destinations Among Travelers

Travelers also sought out vacation rental homes in ski, city and other destinations between January and March 2009, according to the report. Washington, D.C., which played host to the presidential inauguration in January, and the Arlington, Va., area - just outside Washington - saw property inquiries jump 140 percent and nearly 470 percent, respectively, compared to the same time last year.

Top 10 Destinations with the Largest Percentage Increase in Traveler Interest from Q1 2008 to Q1 2009:

1. Arlington, Va. (468%)
2. Watersound, Fla. (361%)
3. Colorado Springs, Colo. (244%)
4. Berkeley, Calif. (242%)
5. Beverly Hills, Calif. (239%)
6. Lexington, Ky. (202%)
7. Austin, Texas (202%)
8. Moab, Utah (201%)
9. La Follette, Tenn. (198%)
10. West Hollywood, Calif. (196%)

With the increased value of the dollar and a more favorable exchange rate, American travelers were also looking abroad during the first quarter of the year. According to the HomeAway report, the number of inquiries for European vacation rental properties originating from the United States increased by 58 percent, compared to the same time period last year. Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona were the most-searched European cities on

Where to Get More Bang for Your Buck

Whether traveling as a couple or with multiple families, vacation rentals provide extra room to relax and unwind for less money when compared with traditional hotel accommodations. Of the cities analyzed in the HomeAway report, Phoenix vacation rentals offered the greatest bargain, with travelers paying, on average, four times less the daily rate per square foot than at a hotel.

Some of the best values can be found in the following markets:

Looking to a Vacation Home for Extra Income

While a vacation rental affords travelers many benefits, it can also provide a steady stream of revenue for the owners. In fact, Butler said more and more owners are renting out their properties to generate extra income. The HomeAway report found that the economy played an important role among owners who began to rent their vacation homes to travelers in the past 12 months.

One in five owners (21 percent) new to the vacation rental market cited economic conditions, including the need to generate additional income, a recent job loss, the inability to sell the home or the risk of foreclosure, as the reason why they started renting out their vacation home. In addition to citing economic conditions as a factor, many owners new to renting their vacation homes are entering the market to generate a profit.

"The research suggests that in the past, many second home owners entered the rental market with a desire to cover all their expenses, but now listing their properties to cover expenses is an economic necessity," said Butler.

Best Bets for Renting Out a Vacation Home

For people who may be looking at vacation homes as a source of income, the HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report identified the top markets where consumer demand significantly exceeds current inventory levels.

The top 10 underserved markets during the first quarter of 2009:

1. South Miami Beach, Fla.
2. Seaside Heights, N.J.
3. Dauphin Island, Ala.
4. Mount Pocono, Pa.
5. New York, N.Y.
6. Hampton Beach, N.H.
7. Ocean City, Md.
8. Hollywood Beach, Fla.
9. Holmes Beach, Fla.
10. Sunny Isle, Fla.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Smart ways summer travelers can cut hotel costs

(ARA) – How does your family plan to save money on summer vacation this year? Driving rather than flying? Maybe carrying all the items you need instead of renting once arriving at your destination? These are all great ways to save! But how do you cut back on one of the biggest, yet totally necessary costs of travel – accommodations?

After airfare (which many travelers are eschewing in favor of less costly motoring), accommodations can be the largest cost associated with summer travel. Short of staying with nearby family (too much togetherness for some of us) or popping a pup tent at the local campground (roughing it isn’t for everyone), how can you cut accommodation costs?

Here are a few helpful hints for both families and business people traveling this summer:

* Stick with a suite deal – If you’re traveling with more than three people in your party, there’s a lot to be said for staying in a suite, from both a cost and comfort standpoint. Suites offer room for larger parties and one suite in a quality hotel can be more cost-effective than booking multiple rooms in a budget property.

Factor in the free extras that come with a suite at a quality brand like Embassy Suites, and the savings can add up further. You’ll save money on food and beverage at Embassy Suites because they offer a free cooked-to-order breakfast every morning and your favorite beverages at an evening Manager’s Reception.

* Timing is everything – If you’re traveling on business, you may not have much flexibility on timing. Still, it’s wise to avoid traveling to a destination during a well-attended festival or event – unless, of course, your business is connected to the event. For leisure travelers, a wiser course might be to choose your destination based on attractions and proximity to home, and then book travel during times when demand is likely to be lower.

Every destination has a “shoulder season” – a time when fewer people are looking to book rooms. Check with the hotel you’re interested in, or the area convention and visitors bureau, to find out when lower demand times occur. You can sometimes save substantially by traveling at those times.

* You’ve earned your rewards – Sign up for travel rewards programs. Look for programs that allow you to move points between accounts. For example, some airlines and hotel chains have programs that award you extra points for traveling with their partners or allow you to apply their points toward travel with their partners. Your points accumulate value faster with these types of programs.

* Shop smart – Comparison shopping is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. Numerous Web sites allow you to quickly find great deals, check out nearby attractions and even create a full travel itinerary. Once you’ve found a great online deal, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, call the hotel and ask someone there if they can do better than the advertised online rate. If they can’t lower the rate, they may be able to throw in some extra incentives like discount coupons to nearby attractions or even a complimentary meal in the hotel’s restaurant.

To learn more about how to save on accommodations and get a “suite deal,” visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Deals Proliferate as Flu Travel Alert Lifted from Mexico

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the U.S. Department of State have now lifted their recommendations that American citizens avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. This is good news for the travel industry, and it may be good news to consumers looking to stretch their vacation budget this summer.

Travel Experts report that recent events in Mexico have created a textbook example of a true “buyer’s market,” with hotel rates often 50% below what they were last summer. Hotels, resorts, airlines and other leaders within the travel industry are moving quickly to recapture lost revenue with extremely aggressive pricing to Mexico destinations.

Among the first to announce a major sale to Mexico is leading travel website who has released a “Half Price Flights to Mexico Sale.” The limited time sale combines low hotel rates with up to $600 in flight credits - delivering flights from most major airports at half price.

“Mexico is back in business for travelers – in a very big way,” said Jesse Henson, Vice President of Marketing. “With resorts and airlines competing for business, plus our new sale offering flight credits worth up to $600 – there are literally once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience an incredible Mexico vacation for a fraction of the cost.” deals to Mexico include, but aren’t limited to:

* Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach All-Inclusive Resort in the Riviera Maya - $600 Flight Credit with 7 night booking
* Moon Palace Golf & Spa All-Inclusive Resort in Cancun - $400 Flight Credit with 7 night booking
* Melia Cabo Real All-Inclusive Resort in Los Cabos - $400 Flight Credit with 7 night booking
* Vallarta Palace All-Inclusive Resort in Nuevo Vallarta - $400 Flight Credit with 7 night booking

Visit for details on the “® Half Price Flights to Mexico Sale.”

According to the official U.S. Department of State website, “The Department of State wishes to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Mexico that on May 15, 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted its recommendation that American citizens avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. As a result of the CDC's decision, the State Department's Travel Alert relating to the 2009-H1N1 influenza outbreak is no longer in effect.” See the full release online here:

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Carnival Cruise Lines to Resume Port Calls in Mexico

/PRNewswire / -- Carnival Cruise Lines will resume visits to Mexican ports of call based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which is no longer recommending against non-essential travel to Mexico. Once all voyages with previously modified itineraries are completed, those vessels will revert to their original routes featuring stops in Mexico. Most itineraries were modified through mid-June with the exception of the Holiday which was modified through late May. A ship-by-ship listing including dates for when each vessel will resume its original itinerary is available at

"We are very pleased to resume our previous itineraries to Mexico, one of the cruise industry's most popular destinations, and we thank those guests who were impacted by the modified schedules in recent weeks for their understanding and patience," said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Cahill added, "The health and well being of our guests and crew is our highest priority and we are returning to Mexico after careful evaluation and consultation with the CDC. It is important to note that the concentration of H1N1 flu cases in Mexico has been inland rather than in the coastal resort areas where our ships visit."

Cahill also noted that the cruise industry works closely with U.S. public health officials in the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program in developing and complying with extensive policies and procedures that are effective in mitigating illness aboard cruise ships. Carnival will continue to follow CDC guidelines for cruise ships which include pre-boarding health questionnaires for all guests and crew, along with secondary screening by shipboard medical professionals as necessary. Additionally, all Carnival ships stock influenza test kits and anti-viral medications for treating type A influenzas.

"Mexico has so many wonderful sites and attractions and feedback from our customers suggests that the majority support a resumption of port calls in Mexico. We know that they and our port destination partners are very much looking forward to our return," he added.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Bring Your Little Monsters!

/PRNewswire / -- Beginning Saturday, May 16, guests at Six Flags Over Georgia can experience the new and improved Monster Mansion family dark ride featuring more 4D effects than any other ride in the world. Monster Mansion boasts eight new animatronic monsters, a major makeover to the existing 97 animatronic monsters and upgraded technology guaranteed to have the young and young at heart returning to ride again and again.

The four-minute boat voyage through Monster Mansion allows human visitors to witness, and for the first time, actually take part in the Monsters' family reunion picnic. Twelve new interactive elements will keep guests engaged and entertained as they witness a close-up encounter with a monster in the marsh and feel the heat from a chili cook-off among several other surprises. The ride's new Monster photographer and his faithful assistant, Nestor, will be on hand to capture every moment.

Gary Goddard, world-renowned design consultant and founder of Gary Goddard Entertainment (GGE), created Monster Plantation in 1981 and is the mastermind behind the re-design. Goddard also constructed the integral elements of the Georgia Aquarium, including the hub that leads to the aquarium's five exhibits and Deepo's Undersea 3D Wondershow. In 2007, GGE created the Glow in the Park Parade - an amazing display of light, sound and motion being presented at several Six Flags parks.

"The transformation is unbelievable," said Goddard. "When Monster Plantation made its debut in 1981, the technology was cutting-edge. More than 25 years later, we have so many more 'toys' at our disposal and the end result is an absolute delight. Monster Mansion is destined to become a fan favorite for the next generation and their families."

Designed exclusively for Six Flags Over Georgia, Monster Plantation was consistently voted one of the park's top attractions and its lovable cast of characters soon became as iconic as the ride itself. Buzby, the kid monster who wears the propeller hat, is named after George Busbee, who served as governor of the state when the ride opened. Mizzy Scarlett is loosely named after Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind and serves as the chair of the Monsters' welcoming committee. These popular characters and others are all returning with a makeover in the new Monster Mansion.

In addition to the new Monster Mansion upgrades, the park will also unveil a new retail shop and mini-museum adjacent to the ride aptly named the MonStore. Here, patrons will find Monster Plantation and Monster Mansion items available for purchase, including plush monsters, apparel, jewelry inspired by Mizzy Scarlett and more.

Six Flags Over Georgia is currently open weekends and will begin daily operation May 22. Season Passes are still available at the lowest price of the year - $49.99, which is only $10 more than the main gate admission price.

For more information on Monster Mansion and other rides, specials events and pricing, visit

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dolly Parton Unveils Sha-Kon-O-Hey! at Dollywood

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dolly Parton showcased her songwriting in her second musical production in as many weeks at the Dollywood premiere of Sha-Kon-O-Hey!—Land of Blue Smoke on Saturday, May 9.

Billed as “a show as big as the Great Smoky Mountains,” the $1 million production is the largest and most elaborate in the theme park’s 24-year history.

“Having grown up and lived in the heart of these beautiful mountains, my love for this area is deep, genuine and heartfelt,” Parton said. “Sha-Kon-O-Hey! celebrates the wonderful people, music and proud heritage of this spectacular place.”

Sha-Kon-O-Hey is derived from the Cherokee name for the Smoky Mountains meaning “land of blue smoke.”

The new show coincides with the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for which Parton is the official international ambassador.

Parton wrote the eight songs featured in the show. She recently released a CD entitled Sha-Kon-O-Hey! which includes all eight songs. Proceeds from first-year sales of the CD benefit Friends of the Smokies, a non-profit organization devoted to preserving and protecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public awareness. The CD is available for purchase at Dollywood or

Guided by Parton’s heartfelt songs, Sha-Kon-O-Hey! takes audiences back to a time of great change in the Smoky Mountains during the 1930s. The captivating story is a musical journey to the hidden land of Sha-Kon-O-Hey where a wizened storyteller guides a reluctant family as it bids farewell to the area that eventually becomes Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 45-minute production features a cast of eight singer/dancers and 10 acrobats plus a six-piece live band with fully orchestrated accompaniment. The musical introduces audiences to the settlers, the rail and lumbermen, the Cherokee warriors and the shiners while capturing the spirit of the mountains and the rich heritage of the people who call them home.

Upon entering the theater, guests are greeted by a cascading waterfall which is the gateway to the land of Sha-Kon-O-Hey. In addition to the stunning waterfall and lush set, Sha-Kon-O-Hey! incorporates scenic elements and stage effects never before seen at Dollywood. The musical reaches a dramatic culmination as the action unfolds amid the audience with the aid of state-of-the-art special effects.

Dollywood, a 150-acre family adventure park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., won the Golden Tickets’ 2007 Publisher’s Pick for best theme park. Open nine months a year (March 27, 2009-Jan. 2, 2010), Dollywood offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including Thunderhead, twice named the world’s No. 1 wooden coaster, and Mystery Mine coaster, Theme Park Insider’s 2007 Best New Attraction. The winner of 11 Big E Entertainment Awards, more than any other park in the world, Dollywood’s live entertainment features country, bluegrass, gospel and mountain music. Plus, a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region demonstrate daily. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas won the Golden Tickets best Christmas event in 2008. Operating days and hours vary. For more information, call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD or visit

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Six Flags Friends Partners With 'Beyond Tribute' to Support War Veterans This Memorial Day Weekend

/PRNewswire/ -- Six Flags theme parks across the country will honor America's military veterans this Memorial Day weekend by partnering with Beyond Tribute to raise awareness and funds for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and related afflictions. Beyond Tribute, a 501c3 non-profit, is the first nationwide grassroots initiative specifically designed to leverage the Memorial Day and Veterans Day holidays to support veterans affected by these neurological problems.

Over 300,000 veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as countless thousands of veterans of other wars suffer from PTSD, TBI and other neurological problems. As a result, their rates of unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, family conflict, and suicide are alarmingly high.

Through this new partnership, consumers will be offered an online "Everyone Pays Kids Price" coupon for admission to all domestic Six Flags properties from May 22 through May 25. One dollar of each ticket redeemed will go directly to "Beyond Tribute" to support research, treatment, and services for those veterans. "Everyone Pays Kids Price" offers a savings of up to $30 per ticket off the regular adult admission price, making fun more affordable for families.

Participating parks include Six Flags America in Bowie, MD; Six Flags Texas in San Antonio, TX; Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, TX; Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ; Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, MO; Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL; Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA; Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, KY; Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, GA; Six Flags New England in Agawam, MA; Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA; and The Great Escape in Lake George, NY.

In addition, designated Beyond Tribute volunteers will be on site, encouraging park guests to log onto the Beyond Tribute or Six Flags websites ( and and signing a pledge demonstrating their support of the men and women of America's Armed Services.

The pledge reads: "Memorial Day and Veterans' Day need to be more than holidays that merely pay tribute to veterans; they should be meaningful days that truly benefit the men and women who have risked their lives and sacrificed their health and well-being in the line of duty. I pledge to seek out and support businesses and events that participate in Beyond Tribute over the Memorial Day and Veterans' Day holidays, because I know my support will help provide vital services for veterans who are suffering the wounds of war."

Park guests will also be able to view a video public service announcement hosted by "Sex and The City" star Kim Cattrall, the national spokesperson for "Beyond Tribute." The PSA will be played on Six Flags TV throughout the summer.

"Memorial Day is an exciting time at Six Flags as families head to our parks to officially kick off the summer season," said Jessica King, Director of Six Flags Friends. "Our partnership with Beyond Tribute is a great way to engage people of all ages across the country to do their part in helping our servicemen and women in a very tangible way."

Matthew Boulay, the former Marine who served in the Iraq war and who helped establish Beyond Tribute, echoed these sentiments, adding that, "Memorial Day was established to honor the sacrifices made by the courageous men and women who have fought for this country in defense of the freedoms and ideals we enjoy and cherish. By using the special Six Flags-Beyond Tribute coupon for admission, visitors to the parks are saying, "yes, we honor these sacrifices and support our veterans."

"Beyond Tribute" has identified three organizations that are engaged in providing vital services for veterans who are suffering from the wounds of war: U.S. Vets, the largest non-profit organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk veterans and a nationally recognized leader in the field of service delivery to veterans; Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and transition to civilian life; and Bob Woodruff Foundation, which raises awareness and funds for service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families to assist in their successful reintegration into their communities.

For more information on the "Beyond Tribute" and the Six Flags Friends initiative, and to download the special Six Flags admission coupon, visit or

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Monday, May 11, 2009

The May 16 Ossabaw Island Day Trip is One for the Birds!

You’re invited!
On a bird-lovers’ tour of Ossabaw Island.
Saturday, May 16, 2009

Your Guide: Coastal Georgia birding expert Diana Churchill

This birding-oriented education trip of Ossabaw Island is scheduled during the peak season for great egrets, snowy egrets, endangered nesting wood storks, and perhaps an anhinga or a night heron.

The trip is perfect for birding veterans, novices, and never-before birders. You’ll visit Pine Barren Pond rookery on Ossabaw Island, a secluded nesting and mating habitat for several species of wading birds, with stops at other important island bird habitats. On-Island Coordinator Jim Bitler will co-lead the trip with Churchill.

Other stops on the island trip will include visits to maritime forest and a variety of wetland habitats. Bring-your-own picnic for our lunch stop under the pines behind Middle Beach, near the site of the Torrey family’s former beach house.

Ideal for first time visitors as well as those familiar with Ossabaw.

Participants on past day trips will find this birder’s eye view offers a new way to see Ossabaw Island, the third largest Georgia barrier island.

See details below, then contact Jim Bitler at The Ossabaw Island Foundation to sign up.
Contact: (912) 210.1613 /

Fee: $50 for Friends of Ossabaw Island, $65 for future Friends of Ossabaw. Your payment confirms your reservation.


Day Trip to Ossabaw Island
Trip date: Saturday, May 16, 2009
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Cost: $50 per person for Friends of Ossabaw, $65 per person for Future Friends of Ossabaw.

Registration: Jim Bitler, (912) 210.1613 /

How To Pay/confirm your registration :
Trip fee is payable in advance by check to:

The Ossabaw Island Foundation, 305 Fahm Street, Savannah, GA 31401

The trip fee covers the round trip boat transportation plus the full day of programming/touring.
No refunds.
Trip will occur rain or shine, except for during severe weather watches or warnings.
In the case of trip cancellation due to weather, the trip will be rescheduled.

Deadline to register: Wednesday, May 13 at 5:00 p.m.

What to bring: Sack lunch, bottled water or other beverage. Binoculars if you have them.
What to wear: Casual outdoor clothes and closed toed shoes.

Travel: The boat to Ossabaw Island departs at 9:30 a.m. from Delegal Marina at The Landings on Skidaway Island.
Please arrive at the marina by 9:15 a.m. The marina is about 30-45 minutes from downtown Savannah.

Travel to the island is via an open pontoon-style boat with a canopy. Very breezy!

Trip requires some physical exertion. Not recommended for people with knee, hip or back problems.
Transportation on the island is via wooden buckboard wagon pulled behind a truck. It’s a rugged ride, so the trip isn’t recommended for people with hip, back or knee problems. Casual outdoor clothes and closed toed shoes recommended.

Group size: Maximum 30 people.

Please call or email Jim Bitler to reserve your place on the trip. (912) 210.1613 /
Your payment confirms your reservation.
Deadline is Wednesday, May 13 at 5:00 p.m.

Contact Elizabeth (912) 233-5104 or Robin (912) 272-1448 regarding directions to the marina or other trip-related questions.

Please research all information and any organization prior to donating or contacting. The Georgia Front Page and the Fayette Front Page share information as provided from a variety of sources. We do not necessarily support, endorse or research the legitimacy of the various organization's information prior to including. We can not be held responsible for the reliability of the information or outcomes if you choose to donate or follow up with the organization (s).

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Georgia Top Black Bass Fishing Destination

T2F Note: Memories of long, hot lazy days fishing with the family bring sweet smiles. Go make your own memories as the Fayette Front Page designates the wonderful streams, lakes and rivers in Georgia with the coveted Fayette Front Page Day Tripper Award.

Seventy-seven years later Georgia still holds the coveted title for the world record largemouth bass – a 22-lb., 4-oz. catch lured out of Montgomery Lake in Lumber City in 1932. Yet, the world record catch isn’t Georgia’s only bass bragging right. Georgia also remains the only state in the nation where anglers can target six of the seven species of black bass.

The most sought after, the largemouth bass, is just one among the state’s black bass population, including smallmouth, spotted, shoal, redeye (or Coosa) and Suwannee.

“Fishing for bass is an all-time favorite passion of many anglers in Georgia and is the most popular type of freshwater fishing in the nation,” says John Biagi, Fisheries Management chief for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “Bass are appealing because they are relatively abundant in most water bodies throughout Georgia, they grow to a quality size, are aggressive fighters and provide a fun challenge to catch.”

Species breakdown by locale, technique


The most widely distributed and popular member of the black bass species, largemouth bass are easily distinguished from other black bass species by their elongated lower jaw that extends past the eye and a wide stripe running down their sides.

They commonly are found in the sluggish waters of rivers, lakes and ponds and are more tolerant of turbidity and salinity than other black bass. Consequently, they are found in most areas of the state.

Largemouth bass anglers can choose from a variety of methods, including plastic worms and jigs, topwater plugs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Fishing with live shiners is popular for those seeking trophy-sized bass. Success typically increases when fishing near some type of cover, such as submerged trees, plants or rocks.

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends the following locations: Cedar Creek Reservoir, Walter F. George Reservoir, Lake Blackshear, Lake Seminole, Silver Lake WMA, Altamaha River, Ocmulgee River, Paradise PFA, Dodge County PFA, Hugh Gillis PFA, Ocmulgee PFA, Rocky Mountain PFA, Weiss Lake (Georgia portion) and the Coosa River (main channel).


Spotted bass, commonly known as Kentucky bass, are a smaller species that live in streams and rivers and often are found in lakes and reservoirs. They closely resemble largemouth bass, but differ in that they have parallel rows of spots below the lateral line and a tooth patch on the tongue.

Spotted bass are a popular target and are known as willing biters and aggressive fighters. Angling techniques vary depending on habitat, but stream fish can be caught using plastic worms, small crankbaits and spinners in flowing water. In reservoirs they commonly are caught in deep water using small plastic worms or jigs, or by crawling a large spinnerbait or crankbait over deep river channel ledges.

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends Lake Lanier and Carters Lake.


The quintessential Georgia black bass, shoal bass are native only to the Apalachicola River basin, including the Flint and Chattahoochee River systems in Georgia. They also were introduced into the Ocmulgee River below Lake Jackson, and therefore can be found all the way to Macon.

Shoal bass are dark olive green on the back, fading to a light green on the sides, with 10-15 vertical dark blotches on the sides. Shoal bass are similar to spotted bass with noticeable rows of spots on their lower sides below the lateral line, and usually a dark blotch on their tails. They are distinguishable from redeye bass in that the tail of shoal bass lacks the white margins characteristic of redeye, and they also lack the redeye and spotted characteristic of teeth on the tongue.

Solely found in rivers and streams, shoal bass are a fly angler favorite and are easily caught on a variety of wet and dry flies and popping bugs. Other lures, such as plastic worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and flukes, can be very effective. Most shoal bass are caught in shallow rapids and rocky shoals, with a few taken each year below dams or in deep pools.

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends the Chattahoochee River (above Lake Lanier), lower Flint River (between Blackshear Dam and the Big Slough near Bainbridge), the upper Flint River and the Ocmulgee River.


The smallest member of Georgia’s black bass group, the redeye or “Coosa bass” look similar to spotted bass in that they have a tooth patch on their tongue and rows of spots along their lower sides, but they lack the spotted’s lateral stripe. They easily can be distinguished from other black bass species by the iridescent white or frosted orange color along the outer margins of their tail.

They inhabit upland warm streams in northern Georgia, and are native to small streams above the Fall Line in the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Savannah, Oconee, Ocmulgee, Ogeechee and Chattahoochee River systems.

A secretive fish, they usually remaining close to heavy cover such as undercut banks, logs and aquatic vegetation, and like shoal bass, are generally intolerant of reservoir conditions. Anglers can catch redeye bass by wading in small streams and casting crankbaits, jigs and spinners. Due to the small size of redeye bass, lure size should be very small (two inches or less).

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends the Chattooga River (between Hwy. 28 down to Lake Tugaloo) and the Cartercay River (a tributary to the Coosawattee River).


The rarest of all, Suwannee bass only are found in the Ochlockonee and Suwannee River systems and generally only in the Ochlockonee, Withlacoochee and lower Alapaha rivers.

Though sometimes mistaken for smallmouth, redeye or spotted bass, the Suwannee has some very distinctive features, like a shallow dorsal fin notch, a jawbone that does not extend past the back of the eye and several diamond-shaped vertical bars along its sides. The most distinguishing attribute is the turquoise tone on the cheeks and breast.

Anglers can use similar methods as described for shoal and redeye to catch Suwannee bass, but lures and baits fished near the bottom usually out-produce other offerings.

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends the Ochlochonee River (Thomasville to the state line), Withlacoochee River and the Alapaha River (below Statenville).


Smallmouth bass are usually bronze-colored, often with dark bars on their sides and their eyes are commonly red. As their name suggests, the mouth is smaller than the largemouth bass and the lower jaw does not extend past the eye.

They typically inhabit clear rocky creeks, rivers and lakes, and usually prefer areas with current in moving water. Anglers should target mountain rivers, creeks and reservoirs in the northern part of the state.

Aggressive and scrappy fighters, smallmouth can be caught using a variety of methods, including plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Downsizing the lures to accommodate their smaller mouths will usually lead to greater success.

This spring, the Wildlife Resources Division recommends Lake Blue Ridge.

For more information on bass fishing in Georgia, visit .

Take Me Fishing! ™ A recent national survey indicated that 87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships. So take your family fishing and you will always have something in common.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Little People® LIVE arrives at Zoo Atlanta for Mother's Day Weekend

Saturday, May 9 at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 10 at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

A fun-filled musical extravaganza celebrating one of the world’s best-known
toy brands lands at Zoo Atlanta Mother’s Day weekend, with six free
performances of Fisher-Price’s Little People® LIVE. Loaded with entertaining
characters, songs, dancing and surprises for younger children, the interactive
traveling show commemorates the 50th birthday of the classic Little People®

Shows are free for Zoo Members and children under 3; free with general
admission. Guests may pick up show tickets in the Zoo’s Flamingo Plaza
or outside the Conservation Resource Center (ARC). Tickets are first-come,

Coca-Cola World Studio
Conservation Action Resource Center (ARC)
Zoo Atlanta
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30315

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

13th Annual CEWC Outdoor Festival and JAKES Day-May 16t

Looking for a way for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors this spring? Come to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center’s Outdoor Festival and JAKES Day Saturday, May 16! This fun-filled event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center’s (CEWC) Discovery Area in Mansfield. Sponsors for the Outdoor Festival include the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and the Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

Admission is free and includes an array of activities that focus on wildlife, conservation efforts and outdoor recreational opportunities in Georgia. Children can try their hands at archery, fishing, shooting sports, and can go on a mini-boat ride with a WRD Conservation Ranger. Show your spirit for the outdoors by getting your face decorated with wildlife art! Presentations scheduled for this event include puppet shows from Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, retriever demonstrations, and live snake and bird of prey programs. Several exhibitors from wildlife-related organizations also will be on hand to give out information and goodies to those interested in expanding their outdoor horizons.

The first 500 kids will receive a free t-shirt and a free hot dog lunch from the Georgia Chapter of NWTF (adults can eat for a nominal fee). For kids under 17 years old, memberships in the NWTF’s JAKES club (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, & Sportsmanship) will be available. Door prizes will be given away at the close of the event too! For a bonus prize, be sure to stop by the Visitors’ Center for a fun Museum Scavenger Hunt. Participants will get a free wildlife poster (limited quantity) and discounts on several gift gallery items (excludes hunting & fishing licenses and Charlie Elliott books).

For further information, visit and choose the “Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center” quick link, or call CEWC at (770) 784-3059. To get to CEWC, take I-20 to Exit 98. Travel south on Highway 11, go through Mansfield and continue three miles south to the entrance at Marben Farms Road on the left. Then follow the Outdoor Festival signs to the Discovery Area. Hope to see you there!

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

US Airways Temporarily Reduces Flights to Mexico

(BUSINESS WIRE)--US Airways (NYSE:LCC) today announced that it is temporarily reducing flights to the following cities in Mexico between May 10 and July 1:

Acapulco (ACA); Cabo/Los Cabos (SJD); Cancun (CUN); Cozumel (CZM); Guadalajara (GDL); Guaymas (GYM); Hermosillo (HMO); Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo (ZIH); Manzanillo (ZLO); Mazatlan (MZT); Mexico City (MEX); and Puerto Vallarta (PVR).

These reductions reflect an overall 38 percent of US Airways’ scheduled Mexico departures when compared to the airline’s original May and June 2009 schedules. These reductions also reflect a half (0.5) percent of US Airways’ systemwide departures between May 10 through July 1.

The reduction in flights will come out of US Airways’ schedule in two phases. The first phase will begin this weekend and reflect flights scheduled to operate May 10 through May 31. The second phase will occur May 8 for flights scheduled to operate between June 1 and July 1, which will be the schedule the airline will operate until July 1. US Airways plans to reevaluate its July and August schedule within the next few weeks for any additional changes as conditions warrant. US Airways hopes to resume its normal schedule of flights to Mexico on July 2.

This reduction in schedule will be accomplished by operating smaller aircraft and reduced frequency to certain destinations. None of US Airways’ destinations in Mexico will be left without service entirely.

Customers whose flights are suspended will be contacted and reaccommodated. Travelers should visit for the most up-to-date travel advisory. Customers are strongly encouraged to check flight status at, by calling 800-428-4322, or by texting their flight number to TEXTUS before arriving at the airport.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Win an RV by Staying Overnight in Georgia

Just in time for sleeping-under-the-stars season, Georgia’s State Parks are offering a chance to make outdoor getaways even more exciting. Between April 18 and May 25, state park visitors who spend a night in a lodge room, cottage, campground or yurt are automatically entered for a chance to win a Coachmen travel trailer from Mid State RV Center in Byron or camping gear from outdoor specialty store REI.

“Spring is the season when people start thinking about outdoor getaways, so we wanted to make it easy for state park visitors to stay overnight and enjoy even more of the great outdoors,” said the park system’s marketing and communications manager Sally Winchester. “With a wide range of affordable accommodations, we have something to suit every family member, even the family dog.”

The “Get Outdoors Getaway” promotion is part of the state park system’s Get Outdoors Georgia program. Launched in 2008, it encourages citizens to get off the sofa and into the great outdoors. Park visitors will get a chance to tour the travel trailer, win REI camping gear and learn about Georgia’s recreational offerings at family-friendly events this spring.

Saturday, May 2 at George T. Bagby State Park & Lodge in Fort Gaines, Ga. – Enjoy boating and fishing without the crowds on sparkling Lake Walter F. George.

Saturday, May 9 at Little Ocmulgee State Parks & Lodge in Helena, Ga. – Go birding along a pretty lake or tee off at the park’s golf course.

Saturday, May 16 at F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Ga. – Explore creeks, boulders and scenic overlooks along the Pine Mountain Trail, then visit the former president’s favorite picnic spot, Dowdell’s Knob.

Friday, May 22 at Red Top Mountain State Park & Lodge in Cartersville, Ga. – Kicks 101.5 FM will broadcast live from 5 – 7 p.m. and visitors can win memberships to Friends of Georgia State Parks, overnight stays, annual passes and more.

Georgia’s 48 state parks are operated by the Department of Natural Resources and offer 2,476 campsites, 414 lodge rooms, 30 cottages and 12 yurts. Reservations can be made at or by calling 1-800-864-7275. “Get Outdoors Getaway” contest rules and entry information can be found at

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