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Crowds herald start of season
Lake park popular over long weekend
Lake WEB 1
Bill Dreyer helps granddaughter Heidi put on a life vest Saturday at Mary Alice Park on Lake Lanier. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Inner tubes, beach umbrellas and picnic baskets were spread out along the shores of Lake Lanier at Mary Alice Park this past weekend.

Chris and Shelly Young traveled from Ellenwood, near Stockbridge, to the park to spend Saturday afternoon with their friend Rachel Johnson and her 3-year-old son Dylan.

The Youngs brought their children, Paige, 3, and Evan, 1.

“It’s [Evan’s] first time at the beach,” said Shelly Young. “So far, so good.

“It’s a little drive for us, but we’re good friends with the Johnsons and they’re here.”

Chris Young said the group’s outing was the ideal way to kick off the summer.

“It’s a long weekend and it’s the start of summer,” he said. “And we’ve heard this is the nicest part of Lake Lanier.”

Tracy Helms, events coordinator with the Cumming Fairgrounds who oversees the park, said the park’s traffic was pretty typical of most Memorial Day weekends.

“It was right in line, maybe a little more than most,” he said. “Anytime you have a threat of weather that’s going to put a damper on it, but we were very pleased with the numbers that came through.”

He said about 180 cars entered the park on Saturday, with those numbers jumping to 388 on Sunday and 367 on Monday.

“Sunday’s usually our biggest day of any weekend,” Helms said.

Jennifer Chambers brought daughter Lacey and her friend, Taylor House, to the park Saturday.

“It’s something fun to do for Memorial Day weekend,” Jennifer Chambers said.

The group came from Cherokee County, noting that Lanier is closer to their home than Lake Allatoona.

“We wanted to start the summer off with something fun and we came here for the Fourth of July last year and it wasn’t very busy, so we decided to come back today,” she said.

The group enjoyed a picnic lunch under the shade of some trees before the girls hit the water with inner tubes.

“This is better than a pool … I hate the pool,” House said. “I would rather get ate by fish [here] than be in a pool.”

Jennifer Chambers noted that her only two concerns were the lake’s level and the sand.

“They could shift the sand a little, but other than that it’s pretty good,” she said. “I can’t believe how low the lake is … to start the summer off, that’s not a good thing.”

The lake Saturday was about 1,065 feet above sea level, which is nearly 6 feet below full pool.

The Johnson and Young little ones didn’t seem to be phased by anything.

“Dylan and Paige are best friends, so they’re happy to be together,” Chris Young noted.

Added Rachel Johnson: “We brought our wagon with toys and had a picnic with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and played in the water. It’s been fun.”