STONE MOUNTAIN – The end of an era is approaching at Stone Mountain.
The Stone Mountain Memorial Association’s board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to end a three-decade management agreement with Herschend Family Entertainment effective August 1.
Herschend had notified the council two years ago of its intention to terminate a lease entered into in 1998.
Board members began negotiations last fall with the company chosen as a finalist to take over management of the park. Thrive Attraction Management is led by Michael Dombrowski, who has served as vice president and general manager of the park since 2014.
“It’s a fresh start,” Bill Stephens, CEO of the association, said after Thursday’s vote. “New beginnings are a good thing.”
The new management of the park is not directly related to other changes underway at Stone Mountain aimed at minimizing Confederate imagery in the park as much as possible without removing the giant sculpture of three Confederate leaders.
The park has a new logo and the board has issued a request for proposals for a company with experience designing museum exhibits to develop an interpretive plan for an exhibit at Memorial Hall that will tell a more complete history of Stone Mountain’s role in Georgia’s history. .
Under the lease termination agreement the board approved Thursday, Herschend will pay the association $4.7 million in rent that was deferred from April 2020 due to the onset of the pandemic.
Herschend also agreed to leave all of the park’s physical assets intact except for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Snow Angel, two staples of the annual Stone Mountain Christmas Festival.
This story is available through a partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.