One could say that at this time of year Paul Creasy is obsessed with snow. When it falls, how it falls, where it falls and whether this year’s blanket that will stretch 400 feet will keep the paying customers satisfied.
And Stone Mountain Park’s particular snow isn’t left to chance.
Creasy is one of a team of 50 to 60 workers at Stone Mountain Park whose job it is to establish and maintain the manmade snow. It includes one team that makes the snow, another team that grooms it and a third that builds the infrastructure.
This is the second year for the park’s winter attraction Snow Mountain, where families come to race down tubing runs, make snow angels, throw snowballs and generally revel in the frozen stuff that is rarely naturally occurs in these parts.
Snow Mountain opens Dec. 26 and runs through March 7. And though Stone Mountain Park officials won’t reveal 2008-2009 attendance figures, it appears to have been a hit.
Creasy, who oversees the snowmaking operation, explained that the park’s snowmaking is a closed-loop system that draws water from the park’s lake, filtrates it before transforming it into frozen crystals. Melting snow goes back into the lake. Stone Mountain Park’s snow-making equipment is not dependent on cold weather and operates automatically, although an attendant is stationed nearby.
The park began making its snow this year on Nov. 1, and equipment has been running around the clock. Lessons learned from the first year of operation have resulted in some changes to the setup. This season four additional tubing lanes are being added so that more people can make their way down the hill simultaneously, said Creasy. Also an additional moving sidewalk (which takes visitors from the bottom of the hill back to the top) is being installed, and there have been some “subtle” changes to the configuration of the 400-foot-long run. He also said additional snow production equipment has been brought in. He said it’s all about enhancing the guest experience.
Creasy, an engineer who uses his technical skills on various other Stone Mountain projects throughout the year, said it’s rewarding to be involved from inception to completion and see people enjoying themselves in the snow. And he admits that “a little bit of the kid comes out in me” when the majority of the work is done.
In addition to the tubing lanes, Snow Mountain also offers a Snow Zone play area for children and adults as well as a Little Angels area where children ages 3 and younger can ride down smaller hills and play. There’s also a bonfire area for toasting marshmallows.
Individual tickets to Snow Mountain are $25. For more information, visit www.stonemountainpark.com.