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Atlanta 1996 / 1 DAY TO THE GAMES

Peachtree Street

July 18, 1996|TIM KAWAKAMI

On Peachtree Street's three-block downtown hub of activity, the sidewalks were busy and the attitude was festive--with an air of impending chaos.

Rufus Cross, part of the private security detail outside the Mall Peachtree Center, said that as far as he was concerned, aside from the constant stream of tourists looking to find Centennial Olympic Park, things were close to business-as-usual.

"It's busy, but the crowds are really going to thicken up on Friday, when the torch comes through here," Cross said. "So far, everything's been fine. Everybody's been in a good mood, and I was just thinking, I need to get a camera for when the torch comes. I'll be standing right here.

"I just hope everything stays positive."

Shannon Hood, a Riverside Polytechnical High School student visiting her father in Atlanta for the summer, was doing a steady business at a souvenir stand--$17 T-shirts were the best sellers--outside the building housing the main ticket center.

"It's going to be a madhouse soon," Hood said. "It's awesome. I love being around the people, and selling is going to be my calling, I can tell. Everybody's happy, and if they don't like the price, they just leave."

Outside the hotel just off Peachtree that is serving as the base for Canadian officials, Atlanta Police Officer Ricky Chambers, hired by Canada for private security, does little else but stare at the scene.

"I'm just here making sure nobody parks a Ryder truck or anything in front," Chambers said. "But I knew when I got this assignment it was a good one. Nobody hates Canada."

Chambers wears a red and white shirt at his post, and it has elicited more than a few comments.

"One lady from here came and asked me if I was a Royal Canadian Mountie," Chambers said. "I said, 'Oui! No parlez vous English.' She nodded her head and walked away."

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