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Skating rink opens for holidays at Dawsonville outlet mall
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Lloyd Freeman, pictured at his ice rink on Wednesday, owns The Ice Rink at North Georgia at the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville. The rink will be open until early January. - photo by Nick Bowman

Lloyd Freeman has gone out of his way to ice over the parking lot at North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville.

But he’s not a jerk — he’s an entrepreneur, and he’s offering folks in Northeast Georgia a chance to go ice skating at The Ice Rink at North Georgia. Freeman and his wife, Kari, opened the rink in late November and will be open through early January.

Chances are you’ve had ice skating on the brain once or twice in the past week as Georgia was hit first by a snow storm and then by one frozen night after another.

Sitting in his ticket booth after dark on Wednesday, hands stuffed into his jacket pockets and breath fogging in the cold December air, Freeman said he’s been aiming to open an ice rink in Dawsonville for the past couple of years. In his day job, Freeman owns a mattress store in Buckhead.

He got the idea after seeing Sugar Hill’s ice rink, and the Dawsonville native figured 2017 was the right time to jump on the idea at the outlets.

And a whole lot of jumping was needed: Getting the rink set up required 300 tons of sand to level the uneven parking lot, two gigantic commercial refrigerators and a lot of effort. He’s even got a miniature Zamboni — think the riding-lawn mower version of the huge things you see during the Olympics.

The end result is five inches of solid ice ready for Southerners looking to try a fresh, new version of bumper cars.

But the effort has been worth it, Freeman said, as business has doubled each week for the three weeks the rink has been open.

Beginning Saturday, prices are $16 for skaters 9 years and older and $12 from 9 to 4 years old. Children younger than 4 can skate for free, and skates are included in the price.

“Christmas Day we’ll open at 4 p.m., about when the movies do and everyone is ready to go do something,” Freeman said. “Christmas Eve we’ll probably close a little bit early.”

And he’s got a party in the works for New Years Eve. Keep an eye on his Facebook page for details.

The Ice Rink at North Georgia will be in Dawsonville until about Jan. 7. Freeman might extend his operation a few days, but that’s yet to be decided.

So bundle up and make a fool out of yourself (or your boyfriend or your wife or your kids) as Georgians try to skate on ice. Let’s hope y’all are better at this than you are driving on the stuff.

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