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    Georgians Asked to Vote for Favorite Park, Help Win Grant Money

    One of Georgia’s State Parks, Sweetwater Creek, is vying to be named “America’s Favorite Park” and win a $100,000 grant for outdoor recreation.  The national contest is part of Coca-Cola’s America Is Your Park campaign which encourages families to get active outdoors.  Anyone can vote online at through July 15.
    Last year, three of Georgia’s State Parks ranked high in the voting, but ultimately did not win the top grants.  This year, state park officials hope that rallying all of Georgia behind a single park will create a better chance for winning. Just after Memorial Day, Sweetwater Creek State Park was already in the top 5 nationally, so it was chosen for statewide support.
    “If everyone in Georgia votes for Sweetwater Creek and asks their friends and family to do the same, we have an excellent chance of winning,” said State Parks Director Becky Kelley.  “The money could be used for hiking trails improvements, fishing docks, picnic areas or any number of projects that our visitors could enjoy for years to come.”
    The Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign will award $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000 grants to the top three ranking parks.  A fourth park will be chosen at random from the remaining top 25 to win a $15,000 grant.  Georgians can vote as often as they wish on until July 15, and checking in with Foursquare earns 100 votes.
    “We are asking everyone to help spread the word about this contest that could benefit all Georgians,” said Kelley.  “E-mail your friends, post links on Facebook, and send out Tweets.  Better yet, use Foursquare because it earns 100 times more votes every time you check in.  A little support from a lot of people can help Georgia win.”
    While the contest is open to any national, state or local park, it was little Oak Park in North Dakota that captured the top prize in 2011. Community members, dignitaries and celebrities organized to support the park through social media, park events, word-of-mouth and voting drives. Oak Park used the money to help restore areas destroyed earlier in the year by a historic flood.
    “Oak Park is the perfect example of what grassroots support can do,” said Kelley.  “We’re hoping to do the same in Georgia this year.”
    Sweetwater Creek State ParkSweetwater Creek State Park is located west of Atlanta, near Lithia Springs.  It’s best known for hiking trails, textile mill ruins, fishing and picnicking.  Maps and photos are available at
    The America Is Your Park initiative was developed by Coca-Cola in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

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