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The site below was placed online in July & August, 1996, and has largely been left in its original form
The Return to Centennial Park

16k-Bryant & USA Women's B-Ball
After spending a few minutes taking in the scene, and *collecting* myself, I went off in search of Alan, who I'd abandoned in my race to beat the beast. When I found him, well, Alan had done good! He had a spot for us to stand/sit on one of the few park benches around, with a clear view of the stage, located about 25 or 30 feet from Ground Zero, from where, of course, The Today Show was broadcasting live. We saw Bryant Gumbel interview the USA women's basketball team, who were very popular with the crowd.

14k-Katie Couric After the broadcast was over at 9am, Katie Couric spent at least 30 minutes working the crowd, signing autographs, posing for photos with dozens of folks, cutting up with everyone, and proving by being so accomodating that she truly is America's Babe. Al Roker also spent some time with the crowd, and even brought out his personal camcorder to film the offering of flowers. Bryant? Well....it must be his "short-timers" attitude, or perhaps no one wanted to talk to him (probably both), but he stayed glued to his chair.
14k-kids Were people afraid to bring their kids? Heck no, they brought them in strollers, they carried them, they watched them play in the fountain. Fear was not in our vocabulary. Defiance, pride, determination... these were the words of the day. And we wanted the children to see that. 12k-kids


The memorial ceremony was as it should be.....breif yet uplifting. The dignitaries were certainly present, including Mayor Bill Cambell, former Mayor Andrew Young, I.O.C. President Juan Antonio Samaranch, Governor Zell Miller, Billy Payne, and representing the athletes, Janet Evans. Thankfully, and wisely, not all of them were there to speak.

27k-Billy Payne After beginning with a soulful solo by Wynton Marsalis, Billy Payne stepped up to the podium on the Global Village stage, and spoke for less than a minute, but with more emotion and sincerity than I've ever seen out of him. But he was just there to introduce the Atlanta Games' spiritual guru, Andrew Young, a man of great dignity, and a great orator. When Andy's done speaking, most people feel calmer, wiser, and more loving of their fellow man. He has that effect on folks, and today was no exception.

The ceremony ended with a couple of upbeat musical numbers, and then the park was officially declared open. From our vantage point, although we could see a lot, we could only see the edge of the crowd, and couldn't judge its size. As we walked around the back of the tower, the panorama of people opened up before our eyes, people jammed shoulder to shoulder as far as the eye could see. Atlanta had returned to the park, and given loud notice that it will not be taken away.

[click the cauldron
for more stuff I saw]

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