Saturday, November 24, 2001

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) An indoor playground with mazes, trampolines and 40-foot slides opened yesterday at Stone Mountain Park in a defeat for those who complained the Confederate memorial was becoming too commercialized.
The Great Barn, a playhouse designed to look like a 19th-century barn, is the first stage in a redevelopment plan by Silver Dollar City Inc., which leased the park from the state in 1998.
Stone Mountain is the Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy. The mountain is carved with the images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
For decades, the state had run the 3,200-acre park, which is Georgia’s top tourist draw and already includes a simulated antebellum mansion, a petting zoo and other attractions. But the park had not added a tourist attraction in 25 years.
Critics complained that further developing the park would threaten its natural beauty.
They also worried that Stone Mountain might one day become a theme park akin to Tennessee’s Dollywood, also managed by Silver Dollar City.
Curtis Branscome, chief executive of the park’s governing board, said of the new attractions: “This is low-scale, low-key. It doesn’t have things that fly through the air and go bang.”
By Memorial Day weekend, the Great Barn will be joined by a gristmill, a bakery, a blacksmith and glass-blowing and candle-making shops with artisans in period costume.

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