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Readers share memories of the '96 Games
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I remember watching the Olympic torch being carried into town. I worked at a company located on U.S. 129, and the owners kindly allowed us employees to go out and see the torch pass through. I brought my camera to work with me that day to take pictures. To this day I can remember the excitement of that moment when the torch passed by me. I took pictures of the torch run, of course. On the night the opening ceremonies were broadcast, I got very emotional and wept for joy when scenes of the Atlanta area, the Georgia coast and Lake Lanier were broadcast while the Olympic theme music was played. I even videotaped the opening ceremonies along with of much NBC's coverage. To this day, hearing the Neil Diamond song "Coming to America" brings back those memories as it was used during the opening montage for NBC's coverage of the opening ceremonies.

Tammy Slay, via Facebook

My husband and I volunteered to help park cars at Gainesville State College during the events on Lake Lanier. I remember having to get up at 4:30 to get there on time. The last day it rained buckets, and I continued to park cars. Most people were understanding about the weather. I still have my green Olympic Transportation shirt.

— Noreen Sherwood, Flowery Branch

I was a lieutenant at the Gainesville Police Department when the '96 Olympic Games occurred. Getting to work security at the Olympic Games was a once-in-a-career opportunity that I will always cherish. The local security planning started years before the actual games occurred, and this contributed to a seamless security operation with our local agencies.
I was fortunate in that I was able to work at the local venue, sometimes at night, and was able to miss some of the worst of the heat. Working at night was also a little awe inspiring in that you had the venue mostly to yourself and a few others, but within a few short hours the venue was filled with thousands of people.

Frank Hooper, retired Gainesville Police chief

My daughter and I attended the flatwater Canoe/Kayak finals and were seated at the finish line on the floating grandstands. Having just had a German exchange student and knowing there were no USA paddlers in the finals, we brought our German flag with us. As the crowd filled in, several Germany fans came to us and thought we were from Germany. One of them spoke English very well and, along with my spotty German we had a good time.
Then, having all these other contingents from other nations surrounding us, and with that the chanting and good natured barbing at each other, it was really neat.

Jim O'Dell, Gainesville, Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club member

We were on vacation, camping at Vogel St. Park near Blairsville. Our two teenage sons had tickets to an Olympic basketball game so we allowed them to drive to Atlanta by themselves to see the game. Then we heard about the bombing. We had no idea if our boys were near Centennial Park that night or not. By the time they got back to Vogel, we knew more about the bombing than they did! Such a tragedy during such a triumph for Georgia. We need to remember the victims and their families. I'm sure this anniversary will be hard for them.

Linda Clore, Gainesville

I was going into the fifth grade when the '96 games came to Georgia. I remember family members coming from states away to stay with us so they could go to some events. Besides remembering clearly how blazing hot it was that summer, I remember how excited all the locals were. There were tons of people visiting Gainesville from all over the world. My family and I were fortunate enough to go see track and field trials in Atlanta, soccer in Athens, and rowing in Gainesville. I don't think at that age I understood the magnitude of what I was seeing, but I definitely appreciate it more at 25.

Laney Farkas, Gainesville

Back in July of 1996, my daughter Lauren was 6 and my son Matt was 5. I had them dressed in red, white and blue, and they were waving flags while we were at the Olympic rowing and paddling events, cheering on our country's athletes. It was such a great time.

DiAnn Kiel, Gainesville

It was my birthday and we drove into Atlanta for the Olympic experience. After locating our deceased parents' commemorative bricks in Centennial Olympic Park, we headed out to the field hockey venue to watch a match. After the match, we decided to head back to Hall County, rather than wait for the concert to begin at Centennial Olympic Park. That night, a bomb was set off at the concert and we did not learn about it until the next day.

Jeremiah Randall, Chestnut Mountain