New life for old attraction

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The Uvanni brothers were looking over the land purchased as a home for the self-storage site they’d planned when they realized what should really go there.

So now Paul Uvanni is switching gears and is prepared to renovate and re-open what was once the Hot Diggity Dog with a Lickety Split Bun miniature golf course and hot dog stand at 5667 Rome-New London Road.

The site opened in the spring of 1985, but closed about 15 years ago.

“People remember it. Everyone remembers playing mini golf and getting an ice cream,” said Uvanni. “So much of that is disappearing in Rome.”

Uvanni said he got a little sentimental while walking the site with his brothers.

“It needs work,” he admitted. He said the plan is to refurbish the golf course — which is designed around Rome’s history — and add an indoor arcade and rides outside.

There will be new greens on the course, manicured grass, more course scenery to enhance the historical concept, a space in the back of the property for batting cages and a birthday party hall inside. The buildings need structural improvements too, he noted, and there will be new outdoor lighting.

Uvanni said he hopes to start the work in April, then open in the middle or end of May. It will be open each year April to October, seven days a week. It will take three to five employees to run the operation, he noted.

Uvanni declined to state the purchase price he paid to Ron and Virginia Rovall, the couple who ran the original site. The 5.89-acre parcel is assessed for $55,000, according to city records.

Uvanni said he also has a special plan to work with local hospitals and care sites that assist children with mental and physical disabilities to have special events there just for them. He said he’d like to close the park to hold these events. “When my dad was alive he always had a soft spot for kids with challenges and underprivileged kids,” he said.

Oh, and the name? Uvanni said the Rovalls asked that it be changed, so he said he’s working on a new name for the place.

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