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7 things you didn't know about Six Flags Over Georgia

Every year, thrill seekers flock to Six Flags Over Georgia to take on rides and indulge in all of the park’s snacks and goodies — it's no suprise that the theme park is an Atlanta favorite.

While dedicated park goers may already know all the twist and turns of every roller coaster, some of these facts about Six Flags may surprise you.

1. Acrophobia is the only drop tower of its kind in the United States

The floorless ride, which means the “extreme or irrational fear of heights,” positions riders in a near-standing position face down and tilts them outward and the top of the 200-foot-tower. The combination of the tilt, riding position and rotating views makes for a unique experience.

2. Charities and military bases receive thousands of donated tickets

Every year in January, as part of the Six Flags Ticket Donation program, both Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water provide tickets to local charities and military bases. Both parks provide tickets and raise funds for a given program. In the past, the park has raised funds for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, MUST Ministries, American Red Cross and more. 

3. Six Flags Over Georgia’s property was originally a dairy farm

Before the park’s opening day on June 16, 1967, the property was a large family-owned dairy field. In 2017, the park will celebrate its 50th birthday and “will back on its storied history and also celebrate the future through innovation,” according to a statement from the park.

>> RELATED: How to Get a job at Six Flags

4.  Six Flags holds a world record for the most couples smooching underneath mistletoe

Yes, that’s right. The theme park owns the Guinness World Records title for the most couples kissing under the mistletoe at once. The record was set in 2015 by 201 couples who kissed under sprigs of live mistletoe for ten seconds in the Mistletoe Mansion section of the park. 

5. Six Flags Over Georgia and White Water introduced a number of the “World’s First”

At the time when The Great American Scream Machine debuted in 1973, it was the longest, tallest and fastest roller coaster. The Minder Bender, which debuted in 1978, was the world’s first triple looping coaster. The 2016 DC SUPER Friends family-themed area was the first of its kind in the world. The first virtual reality coaster, the New Revolution, was also North America’s first. Lastly, White Water’s Wahoo Racer, which opened this year, is the tallest slide of its kind in the world. 

6. Some of the rides from opening day are still operating

If you walk into the park today, there are several rides currently running that were introduced back in 1967, including the Hanson Cars and the Dahlonega Mine Train.

7. The Riverview Carousel is over 100 years old

The carousel – originally build in 1908 for Chicago’s Riverview Amusement Park – is filled with 70 hand-carved horses and four chariots. Once the Chicago park closed, the carousel moved over to Six Flags Over Georgia and is listed on the National Registry of Historic places. During the wintertime, the attraction is decked out with more than 100, 000 lights and candles for the holidays.

Deadly amoeba found at National Whitewater Center, activities suspended

The U.S. National Whitewater Center voluntarily closed its whitewater rafting activities Friday afternoon after water samples tested positive for a brain-eating amoeba, officials confirmed.

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The tests, which found Naegleria Fowleri at the Whitewater Center, are preliminary. Final results will not be ready until next week.

Visitors said a staff member blew a whistle around 4 p.m. Friday and had everyone get out of the water. The center itself, in Charlotte, North Carolina, is not closed, however, Mecklenburg County Health Department Director Dr. Marcus Plescia said officials "feel quite certain (the) amoeba is present in (the) Whitewater Center" at a news conference Friday evening.

Local, state and federal health officials are investigating after a recent high school graduate, Ohio resident Lauren Seitz, 18, died from a brain-eating amoeba days after visiting the Whitewater Center.

>> Related: Teen dies of brain-eating amoeba after whitewater rafting

The Health Department is working closely with the Center.

Naegleria Fowleri is a brain-eating amoeba found in warm freshwater, like lakes and ponds. It does not make people sick if it's swallowed, but if it goes up a nasal cavity -- where it's close to the brain -- it can be deadly. The amoeba is present in many open water sources and has been linked to 35 illnesses in the last 10 years, Plescia said.

He said the risk of getting into a car crash while driving to the Whitewater Center is higher than being infected by the amoeba at the facility.

Plescia said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was running tests Wednesday at the facility. The health organization took 11 samples from various parts of the Whitewater Center and found the amoeba in most of them. Testing will continue over the next few days.

The Center released a statement:

"The U.S. National Whitewater Center, after discussion with the Centers for Disease Control and local health officials, has decided to temporarily suspend all whitewater activities effective immediately.

This decision was made after initial test results found Naegleria Fowleri DNA was present in the whitewater system.

The USNWC is working with the CDC and local health officials to develop next steps. Only whitewater activities are suspended.

The USNWC remains open for all other operations and activities."

Watch: Video shows 10,000 sparklers lit at once

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A new video on YouTube is on fire on social media. 

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The video, uploaded by Russian YouTuber SlivkiShow, shows what happens when he sets 10,000 sparklers ablaze at once. 

The result, as you might expect, is pretty awesome, and he even attaches a GoPro camera to a long pole to get a good overhead view.

Though all three minutes of the video are in Russian, English subtitles explain each step of the process.

The most impressive part of the video is undoubtedly the spectacular visual result. But the YouTuber warns, "All that is shown in this video is very dangerous. It is forbidden to repeat, but you can enjoy it."

The video has been viewed more than 6 million times. 

X Games Austin 2015, 6.5.15

Apple to partner with Kobe Bryant and others to test IWatch

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Another drop of fuel in the Apple iWatch fire. 

9to5Mac reports sources familiar with the matter say Apple is teaming up with professional athletes to test the iWatch "in intenest training environments."  

The outlet names pro athletes such as Lakers player Kobe Bryant and Kings player Dustin Brown. They, of course, reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements to participate in the project. (Via Flickr / Keith AllisonMark H. Anbinder)

This adds yet another rumor to the long list of rumors/evidence/speculation/whatever-you-want-to-call-it pointing to an iWatch launch. At this point, several sources expect an October launch of the health-and fitness-tracking device.

Health, one of the features Apple announced at its World Wide Developers conference, will likely communicate with the wrist-mountable device, giving users the ability to track all kinds of personal health information. 

Which is likely why Apple wants to partner up with pro athletes — if it works in those high-intensity training environments, it'll work for the rest of us. 

A writer for TechnoBuffalo says despite reports the iWatch will have at least 10 different sensors, this potential partnering shows Apple's focus is mostly on fitness. "The news all but confirms that the iWatch will serve primarily as a fitness tracker."

TechCrunch says the move is a brilliant marketing technique. With the Cupertino Company looking to push between 50 million to 60 million units in the first year, an iWatch is going to need some serious street cred. Enter sports stars, stage right. 

"Sports sells gatorade, and sports sells sneakers, and sports sells clothing and hats and TV trays and bottle openers and anything that has enough surface area to hold a logo." (ViaTechCrunch)

And now sports might sell the iWatch. 

X Games Austin, 06.05.14

A look at the best sunscreen for your money

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

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A May 2014 study from Consumer Reports has ranked sunscreens and found that you don't have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays.Here's what so funny: The highest rated sunscreen that got a Best Buy recommendation turned out to be the cheapest one per ounce they tested!

Want the best sunscreen for your money? Check out these options

Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, which is a Walmart storebrand lotion, clinched the Best Buy trophy with a score of 80 from Consumer Reports. It costs only 56 cents an ounce, which represents a 9-cent increase in price since last year. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (13%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%), and Oxybenzone (4%). The only sunblock to score higher in the lotion category was Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50. This lotion got a score of 81 and costs $1.38. The active ingredient list mirrors that of Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50, with the exact same concentration of active ingredients.When it comes to sprays, longtime Consumer Reports favorite UP & UP Sport SPF 50 got a 90 -- a full 10 points higher than last year's showing for this Target housebrand. Amazingly, the cost per ounces has dropped to 80 cents, down from $1.16 last year! Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (4%), and Oxybenzone (5%).

>>Company claims it has developed drinkable sunscreen

>> Special Section: Your Guide to Summer FunThe historical favorite in this annual tally has been NO-AD Sport SPF 50 with Avobenzone, Aloe, and Vitamin E SPF 45. The NO-AD lotion scored a 69 this time out -- up 20 points from last year. The cost per ounce is 63 cents. Active ingredients include Avobenzone (2.0%), Homosalate (15.0%), Octisalate (5.0%), and Oxybenzone (5.0%).I was talking with a dermatologist last week and she said the real problem is too many people apply sunscreen too sparsely. You need to put gobs of it on your kids. My kids are conditioned to know that it's a five-minute ordeal while we slather them up before they can go out into the sun. It's a necessary precaution. But don't forget yourself either.If you're like me and grew up in the generation when nobody wore sunscreen, we're a ticking time bomb for skin cancer and melanoma. In many cases, early skin cancer detected is just a little aggravation that's easily treated. But undetected, it can grow into melanoma and cost you your life.Whatever sunscreen you get, be sure it says "broad spectrum" on the label for maximum protection.

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It’s Fall ya’ll and I smell funnel cakes!

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As if I needed the calendar to tell me that last week marked the first day of Fall.  What gave it was away was the roar of the crowds at local High School football games, the leaves on my maple tree starting to turn from bright green to yellow, and of course the sweet smell of yeast and dough hitting the hot oil of a deep fryer when serving up  Funnel Cakes  at all the fall fairs!  Oh yes ya’ll Fall is here!  And there is more fun than you can shake a corn dog stick at.  Whether you like apple and pumpkin picking, country fairs, or exploring the mountain leaves, you’ll have enough choices to make everyone in your caravan happy!

Apples, Pumpkins, and Corn- Oh My:  Since fall is all about celebrating the harvest, you certainly can’t ring in this season without spending a little time with the bounty!    North Georgia is brimming with farms full of fall’s harvest.  Did you know that Ellijay is the apple capital of Georgia?  So you know that they take their apple picking seriously! Hillcrest Orchards hosts the Apple Picking Jubilee throughout October.  Not only do they have every type of apple imaginable for picking, but they have plenty of activities too like train rides, a petting zoo, live music, kid’s rides, and what else, pig races!  Not far from the apples, you will find Burt’s Pumpkin Patch  and Buck’s Corn Maze.   Both are up near Amicolola Falls.  Next to first day of school photos, I can honestly say that Burt’s is easily the most popular photo op currently trending on social media!  Propping kids up on one of Burt’s huge pumpkins is a rite of passage!  Not to mention running around picking out a pumpkin, and going on the hayride is fun too!.  If you still need more fun with produce, check out Bucks corn maze which is approximately a 12 acre field of corn that has 4 miles of maze cut into it.  They also offer hay rides, and on Saturday’s, when the farm is open till 9, they offer the Haunted Maze. Check websites for times and pricing.  Don’t want to actually pick your produce? All of these farms have general stores where you can “shop” for favorites items including a funnel cake!

Fair Play—Where else do you get to see blue ribbon livestock, a bearded woman, a giant stuffed gorilla, and a nationally known country singer all while eating a  turkey leg, and of course, a funnel cake?    Why the country fair of course!  Oh yes, fill up the car, turn on your favorite music cause we’re road trippin’ to the fair! I just love these short trips to small towns around North Georgia.  Some of the must see fairs are Cumming Country Fair  happening 10/3-10/13 and the Georgia State Fair at the Atlanta Motor Speedway 10/25-11/3.  Although both of these fairs boast fun rides, carnival games, and fair food, the Cumming Country Fair will also be offering a Miss Cumming Beauty Pageant, bull riding, and a performance by Country singer Kelly Pickler.   The Georgia Sate Fair will be hosting an array of attractions from “Freak Show Deluxe” to Grizzly and Sea Lion acts and don’t forget the Rhinestone Roper…Yeah C’mon!!.  If you are more into taking in the natural surrounding and enjoying local food, beer, and crafts, check out 43rd annual  Octoberfest in Helen Georgia for beer, brats, bands and Lederhosen!    Or celebrate the discovery of gold 185 years at the  Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, Georgia 10/19-10/20 . Points of interest are a parade, children's activities,  gold panning contest, and hog calling all with a black drop of Dahlonega’s spectacular fall colors. 

Leaf it up to you- If heading up to the North Georgia Mountains makes you think of cameo, a banjo, and a jar of moonshine then think again.  Some of the best fall colors will be on display this side of the Appalachian Trail.  You don’t have to go far either.  Just a short 40 minute drive from the city will land you at Red Top Mountain.    But take the time to head further north because the views are spectacular.  If you travel north of Dahlonega you will hit the beginning of the Appalachian Trail at Neel’s Gap-  From there you can take in the views off of the landing behind the general store or travel one of the trails to Blood Mountain.  Vogel State Park is in Blairsville just a short 2 hour drive from Atlanta.  There is a short lake loop or a longer 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail that makes a nice day trip, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake.  If mountain biking is more your speed, consider taking on the 7.5 mile bike trail of Unicoi State Park in addition to shorter foot trails.   Check out this Leaf Watch Guide provided by the Georgia State Parks for more details directions and suggested trails.       After a long hike, considering a little down time with a visit to one of the many North Georgia wineries. Get a complete of nearby wineries. 

Georgia never looks better than she does in the fall.  All dressed up in gold from the autumn sun and swaying her leaves to mountain music.  All I can say is don’t miss the chance to take in all that North Georgia has to offer and experience, the best part of the season,  a little Southern hospitality!

OMG It’s a GNO!

In case you haven’t heard, there is a new phenomenon among women and their circle of friends.  It’s called a Girls Night Out or GNO and it’s definitely not your mother’s bridge night!  Anywhere you hear the sound of a cork being popped or the splash of wine hitting a wine glass, you can best bet there are women gathering to celebrate spending time with their girlfriends away from the pressures of everyday life.

The 30-40 something crowd has taken the GNO to a new level.  These are independent women who relish their time apart from significant others, husbands, and their kids.  These women are fun, full of life, and sassy-  No ordinary dinner and drinks will do.  Oh no, these women have taken the Girls Night Out to a whole new level.  Here are some ideas that are extremely fun, easy to do, and won’t break the bank!

 

  • Shop and Swap:  Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.  Now a days, the saying should be “mothers with a necessity for bags, invented a swap.”  This may be the greatest thing that came out of the recent recession.     The idea of a purse swapping party is that everyone brings a purse that they no longer want and swaps it out for another purse. One woman's junk is another woman's treasure.  Make a list of about 15 of your friends that you think would like to be a part of the swap, and maybe more importantly, might have a good purse sitting in her closet!  Try to encourage the women to bring a purse that they still would carry but just might be tired of.  Once a bunch of your “besties” has signed on to come, you can plan a fun menu.  Try a signature drink like a skinny lime punch-    -  You won’t be at a loss for entertainment as you watch your otherwise subdued friends act like a pack of lioness circling their prey when they lay eyes on a slightly used Tory Burch bag!  By the way, this swap idea can be used for all sorts of things-  Try gently worn clothes or shoes, or even beauty products.  

 

  • Paint Nite:  If you haven’t put paint on paper since the age you used a finger instead of a paint brush, then Paint Nite is a perfect idea for a Girls Night Out .  The idea behind Paint Nite is to take two popular pastimes, artistic painting and drinking cocktails and puts it in a fun social setting at local bars and restaurants.  And don’t worry if you’re not a Picasso or a Van Gogh because Paint Nite invites a local artist to offer step-by-step instructions.  Between sipping a Cosmo and giggling with your girlfriends you will have taken a blank canvas and created a completed picture that you can hang on a wall at home.  Paint Nite is happening in a variety of neighborhoods bars and restaurants all over town.  Check them out here.

 

  •  It’s my Party and I’ll Wine if I Want To:   So we already know that where ever women gather, the wine is sure to follow.  But here is a fun twist on a Girls night Out with wine.  Host a blind wine tasting party.  It’s not only fun to taste a variety of wines but you might be shocked to find out that the favorite wine of the evening was under $10!  Score!  So the concept is to use a theme for the selected wine like from the same region or price point or variety.  Since many of us are not wine connoisseurs, my friend kept it easy by having us all choose a wine with an animal in the name.   Ask your guests to bring two bottles.  One for tasting and one to be used as part of the grand prize.  Then put all of the tasting bottles in brown bags and number them.  Print out score cards based on look, smell, taste, finish and ask the girls to rate the wine on each category from 1-10.  The wine with the highest score wins the party and the person who brought it gets to go home with the grand prize….The one extra bottle of wine that each guest brought.  Since all the ladies will have their hands full with a glass of wine, try offering some easy finger foods so no one goes hungry. Get some easy ideas here

Women have always enjoyed spending time with one another in small groups.  Maybe it’s in our DNA from ancient days when we were gatherers.   The modern knitting bee is now the Girls Night Out and I for one am much happier that female bonding has taken a turn.  I could never knit anyway and I’d much rather laugh with my girlfriends while eying a handbag!

Hidden Gems - Outdoors on a Budget

Summer in Atlanta can only mean one thing.  It’s time to get out doors.  If you are like most people in “these parts” then you probably aren’t from here and the idea of spending long amounts of time outside might bring to mind a scene from “Deliverance”  But as a native of Atlanta, I have found some great ways to explore our fabulous southern surroundings for less than the cost of large sweet tea!

  • The Swimming Hole:  There are a ton of natural swimming holes all around Atlanta and the surrounding areas.  One that is easy to get to and is pretty popular is Vickery Creek at Old Roswell Mill Park.   Vickery Creek is part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area park, and it is a tributary of the Chattahoochee River.  Vickery Creeks’ popularity comes from the small waterfall that runs over a historic dam and the 19th century cotton mill.  Enter the park through a trellis at the Old Mill and take a path to stunning lookouts, a picnic area, relics of the mill’s hydropower equipment and the dam. Enjoy the sounds of the waterfall, the warm sun, the shallow millpond for cooling off and large flat rocks for sunbathing. In addition there are  miles of hiking trails.  Want more? Visit http://www.swimmingholes.org/ga.html 
  • Pickin’ and Grinin’:  Summer time just conjures of the imagine of blackberries sliding down the side of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Just crack open any summertime issue of Southern Living and you will see what I mean!  Blackberries are plentiful and easy to pick. Last weekend while spending some time in Lawrenceville,  I found a wild thorny thicket bursting with the berries and managed to pick a pint.  Blackberries grow wild all around Georgia but if you need help find a spot, check out the map of where to pick berries from Concrete Jungle.  This website is great for showing where fruits are  growing naturally in  Atlanta and  to show places to pick blueberries., blackberries, peaches and plums just to name a few.   
  •  It’s the Wheel Thing:  Everyone knows that traffic in Atlanta can be epic.  Take a road less traveled and find a bike trail.  Over the past 20 years Atlanta has done a great job of growing the number of trails and bike paths throughout the 16 county Atlanta metropolitan area. This has really helped to take biking off busy streets and into more protected areas.  The Silver Comet Trail (silvercometga.com) begins 13 miles west of Atlanta in Smyrna and runs more than 61 miles westward to the Alabama border.  Another popular trail runs through the city beginning at the Carter Center and runs more than 19 miles to Stone Mountain.  Peachtree City has a 90-mile path system that not only accommodates bicyclists but also golf cards and walkers.  Check out The Path Foundation for path and trail details. 

Try something different this summer and step into the wonderful world happening outdoors all around Atlanta.  You will not only find some hidden gems but you will also make memories that will last a lifetime. 

 

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