I was in my car when the announcement was made. On my way to a job interview. I knew it wouldn't happen. I mean really, Atlanta? The host of the Olympics? But on that morning of September 18, 1990 - the proclamation was made: "IT'S ATLANTA!" Followed by much screaming. Clapping. And allegations of bribery. Atlanta was to be the host of the Centennial Olympic Games.
There was so much drama surrounding our Olympics. From commercialization. To our mascot. Labeled worst ever. To ticket sales operators declaring that people from New Mexico couldn't buy tickets because they hadn't opened up foreign sales yet.
And then the world arrived on our doorstep. And they were welcomed with open arms and a big glass of sweet tea. Companies gave employees paid days off so they could volunteer. Other companies encouraged people to take vacation days or work from home. And for several weeks at the end of July, there was no traffic in this town. Rush hour was non-existent.
In 1996 I was almost done with school. I was a newlywed. And I was working for a family as a nanny and household manager. And they had ordered lots of tickets to Olympic events. From what I recall, you made your requests. With several choices. And it was done by lottery. So, sometimes you had tickets to events that you weren't that excited about. I suppose that is why I was invited to go to this event:
I can't recall if they were excited about it. I went along. I even brought my camera. Let me set the stage for you. We parked in a gravel parking lot and walked down a path towards the lake. There were metal bleachers set up. And the organizers knew that this would not be a big crowd drawer. There probably weren't any more bleachers than you'd see at a typical little league game. But the Olympic bleachers? Special. Because they were metal. And had been sitting in the sun since "IT'S ATLANTA" was announced. I think I still have burn scars on my bum.
And what is it like to watch rowing? Well...you sit on the bleachers. Watch all the boats (what are they called?!) line up. A gun goes off. And off they go. And you know what? You can't see them rowing anymore. They rowed arond a bend. And completely out of sight. For a really long time. And the rest is blurry. I know we didn't stay long. And I am not sure if we ever saw them come back.
And then for my birthday, they gave me tickets so that Michael and I could go and see some track and field events - and the women's marathon.Do you see the date on this ticket? It is significant because not even twelve hours earlier, the Atlanta Olympics hosted its first tragedy. With a bomb that went off in the park. So this was the first event to take place after that. And the first foray into even more security.
And do you see the time on that ticket? Man, that's early. But, I suppose if you are going to run a marathon. In Atlanta. In July. Earlier is cooler. Here are people walking up the hill to the stadium. With our Capitol building in the back ground. Obviously my date on my camera was a smidge off. While we were walking to the stadium...I noticed all these vans. They were to follow the runners. For security.When we found our seats inside the stadium - we discovered that they were great seats. Up close. And pretty soon after we were seated...the marathoners were off:They ran around the stadium. Once. And then out to the streets. I'm getting a feeling of Déjà vu. Now what? Well, apparently at 7am at the Olympic stadium, I could get a breakfast of beer and a hot dog. Which we did. And we wandered around. And did the wave.Hmmm. Oh, wait. What is that? It's volunteers setting up the hurdles. Yay! Something to watch.I suppose the marathoners weren't anywhere close if hurdles were going to happen. Hey, are hurdles going to happen? After a while. A great while. We got to watch a round of women's qualifying hurdles.And then the hurdles were cleared away. And I think that more snacks were consumed. And we made friends with everyone sitting around us. And we might have done the wave again. And then...a single marathoner re-entered the stadium. It was a photo finish. And Ethiopia won the gold.Not that we got to see her get her medal. Nope, that was reserved for another time. For people that paid more for their tickets. And then. We were told to leave. Everyone was to vacate. Because round two ticket holders needed to get in. And even as we left...Olympians began another event.Discus. Or shot put. Or something.
So, what about you? Have you ever been part of a big event? Did it live up to the hype?