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Crowds flock to Amicalola Falls State Park despite COVID-19 pandemic
Hordes of tourists, some masked, some not, visited Amicalola Falls over the weekend, walking the line on recommended social distancing guidelines to see the falls and enjoy the nice weather. - photo by Ben Hendren

Locals and visitors from all over the North Georgia area took advantage of the sunshine this weekend, visiting Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawson County despite the continued spread of COVID-19. 

People ventured out to the park to exercise, fish and enjoy some fresh air. Karter Ross of Atlanta said that he and his family traveled to the park to escape the negative energy currently in the state’s capital. 

Others were at the park to celebrate. William Hall and Hannah Phillip had their engagement party Saturday in the park with family and close friends. They kept their invitee number under ten people and were spread out to abide by social distancing suggestions. 

A masked couple stops for a photo in front of Amicalola Falls in Dawson County on Saturday, May 9, 2020. - photo by Ben Hendren

Christy Hall, Hall’s mother, said that the park was a great place for everyone to see together and celebrate because there were many places that they could interact with each other without having to interact with strangers. 

But according to park officials, recently park staff have had to turn visitors away because they do not have enough parking spaces to accommodate the number of people wanting to come in. 

On Saturday, Amicalola Falls State Park General Manager Charles Willis said that public interest in the park is common for summer weekends and though the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, it hasn’t stopped them from enforcing safety procedures. 

“We aren’t turning people away because of the virus,” Willis said. “But it has been convenient that it allows us to obey the social distancing instructions.” 

The park visiting center was still closed over the weekend and limited numbers of staff patrolled the park Saturday morning. The park will not open up in its entirety until May 21, according to Willis. 

“We expect business to remain as usual for the entire summer,” He said. “People love being outside and we love having them at the park.”

Park officials say the crowds that gathered at Amicalola State Park over the weekend aren't uncommon for the time of year and people aren't being turned away due to COVID-19. - photo by Ben Hendren