Numbers released by the Georgian Ministry of Health on Sunday showed the states have just passed 6,000 COVID deaths and hit 6,037. Georgia had passed the 5,000 mark just 15 days earlier. A total of 283,199 cases have been reported in the state.
Visitors, some wearing masks, many not, stand side-by-side in line at the Crossroads ticket slot in Stone Mountain Park on Labor Day weekend Sunday, September 6, 2020. MATT KEMPNER / AJC
Different parts of Metro Atlanta saw different scenes during part of the vacation weekend. Some, like Mary Alice Park on Lake Lanier in Forsyth County’s, appeared to have fewer visitors than at other times prior to the pandemic, according to a report. But at Stone Mountain Park in DeKalb County, a gatekeeper said it seemed like he was seeing more visitors than ever before during the pandemic.
Park police and fire chief Chuck Kelley said visitor numbers to nature areas were only slightly higher during the pandemic than on other typical weekends, but “a lot less than normal working days in previous years.”
He pointed out that nightly laser shows were dropped during the pandemic. Numerous local Labor Day weekend events – including the AJC Decatur Book Festival, Dragon Con, Atlanta Black Pride, and the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game – have been canceled, postponed, or switched to virtual versions.
Visitors to Stone Mountain Park will be reminded of pandemic precautions on Sunday, September 6, 2020. (Photo: Matt Kempner / AJC)
Rosheda McClendon of Wrightsville, central Georgia, visited Stone Mountain Park with about eight other family members in tow, including family visits from Virginia.
“We just wanted to find a place to take the kids,” she said. Also on her itinerary: the Georgia Aquarium.
COVID-19 said she wasn’t worried but “we always think about it.”
The kids at Stone Mountain Park were mesmerized by bubbles over Labor Day weekend, Sunday, September 6, 2020. MATT KEMPNER / AJC
Lisa and Stephen Creswell, of Greenwood, South Carolina, stopped at the park’s Memorial Lawn to take a selfie with their daughters. They were careful about indoor activities in public places. But the girls recently went back to school.
“We have to go back to the point where we are no longer afraid and live a little while still being careful,” Lisa said.
Lisa and Stephen Creswell of Greenwood, South Carolina took a selfie with their daughters at Stone Mountain Park Memorial Lawn on Sunday, September 6, 2020. (Photo: Matt Kempner / AJC)
Rob Frazier and his family from Smyrna were on their first real outing to a place like Stone Mountain since the pandemic began. They said they had hand sanitizer in a diaper bag and masks tucked all over the place, but there was no foolproof preparation to explain a toddler trying to touch and taste everything that happened to him.
Other Atlanteans said they skipped normal Labor Day routines. You’ve avoided jam-packed family gatherings in favor of socially distant chats on the neighborhood streets. Or dropped the idea of beach trips or air travel for the weekend vacation.
Clayton Collie noted the cancellation of his favorite event of the year, House in the Park, a Labor Day weekend music get-together at Grant Park that attracted a wonderfully diverse mix of Subway Atlanteans and visitors, sweating and dancing en masse.
“You can’t have that with the pandemic,” he said, his voice slightly muffled by his KN95 face mask.
Instead, the East Point resident drove to downtown Norcross for a walk and lunch, a short break from a weekend vacation weekend when he was working from home. “I explore areas in Atlanta that I wouldn’t normally explore. This is my escape from the pandemic. “
With new distancing rules during the pandemic, families will be waiting in a ticket area near Summit Skyride in Stone Mountain Park on Labor Day weekend, Sunday, September 6, 2020. MATT KEMPNER / AJC