Take a Day Trip to Centennial Olympic Park – an Atlanta Treasure

Mark Banta, center, hosts members of the Peachtree City Garden Club at Centennial Olympic Park

The Peachtree City Garden Club recently took a field trip to tour Centennial Olympic Park as the guest of General Manager, Mark Banta. We explored the 21-acre site and enjoyed the beauty of a perfect, sunny spring day. Mark, a Fayetteville resident and former Fayette County Extension Agent, has worked tirelessly since 1996 to create a public urban park that all Georgians can be proud of and enjoy. His mission has been to create a legacy to the Olympic Games and to promote the park as the centerpiece of economic development in the downtown area. When you tour the park, you can see that Mark’s mission is now a reality. Not only is the park rich in Olympic history but it is surrounded by the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, CNN, Children’s Museum of Atlanta and numerous restaurants, hotels and businesses. The area is a must-see for people who visit Atlanta from all over the world.

The original vision for the park came from Billy Payne, who spearheaded the Atlanta Olympic Games. He wanted to turn a downtown eyesore into a spectacular greenspace where the world could congregate to celebrate the games. The park was funded with $75 million in donations from the private sector, including commemorative bricks that line the walkways throughout the park.

Famous Fountain of Rings

Most of us are familiar with the Olympic Fountain of Rings with jets of water that children love running through. Not many of us, however, have enjoyed all the other park amenities. If you visit you will find several garden rooms, called “quilts,” including the Quilt of Nations, the Quilt of the Olympic Spirit, the Quilt of Origins, the Quilt of Dreams and the Quilt of Remembrance (in remembrance of those killed and injured in the Atlanta Park bombing of July 27, 1996) – all depicting some aspect of the history of the Olympic Games.  You can enjoy water gardens, waterfalls, children’s playgrounds and amazing sculpture. There are 575 trees, 30,000 shrubs and 330,000 square feet of grass. 209 events were held at the park this past year and an estimated 3.2 million visitors visited the grounds.

A Gift to the City of Atlanta from Athens Greece

This summer, take the whole family to visit this Atlanta treasure. You will learn much about the history of the Olympics as you explore this beautiful urban garden. Every Tuesday and Thursday from noon until 1:00 and Wednesday from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., you can enjoy a free concert at the park amphitheater. Every 4th Saturday throughout the summer, is “Fourth Saturday Family Fun Day” from noon – 4:00 with a variety of free activities for kids. For more information about Centennial Olympic Park, please go to: http://www.centennialpark.com/

Azaleas are in bloom right now at the park

Bonnie Helander

I am a writer and blogger with a specialty in gardening and a proud graduate of the University Of Georgia. I live in Peachtree City with husband, Dan, and enjoy hiking, gardening, being a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club and rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs!

April 15, 2010