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Chillin' Out in Hotlanta

By Ross AtkinStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 23, 1996



ATLANTA

Many observers are convinced that it took a super sales job to lure the Olympics to Atlanta in the dead of summer. Some reports even suggest that local organizers massaged the temperature numbers a bit, hoping to convince the international Olympic brass that the heat really isn't that bad. The chilling discovery this reporter made is that Hotlanta really has two midsummer climates, one outside and one inside.

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Expectations of the first influenced my packing. Firsthand experience with the latter influenced my purchasing. Anticipating a daily steam bath, I packed one pair of long pants. What I didn't bargain for, though, was the arctic temperature that Olympic buildings and buses would achieve.

Packing for any Olympics is a challenge. Do you take a couple of extra media guides and background files, or do you opt for a full supply of underwear? Most, I feel certain, elected to carry a large Olympic library. With the papers stuffed into my suitcase, I possessed enough insulation to camp out in Antarctica.

I was soon off to Peachtree Street in search of an extra pair of long pants, passing through throngs of bared-kneed pedestrians en route. Macy's was well stocked, with stacks and stacks of the wrinkle-free models waiting in a virtually deserted men's department. Trousers, one might say, weren't selling like hot cakes.

My pants search at this Olympic Sweatennial, it struck me, created an interesting counterpoint to the 1904 Olympic marathon race in St Louis, where one competitor arrived at the starting line wearing long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. There were no sportswear manufacturers then eager to get their product on these more casual competitors. Someone did come to this runner's aid, however, pruning his clothes to more suitable lengths.

As for Atlanta and mid-July, the reason is that the Olympics organizing committee needed to use many college facilities. Organizers have been sensitive to keeping everyone as comfortable as possible. Tents, that look like a sea of whitecaps, have been constructed everywhere. Large misting machines are being employed at various outdoor events to cool down the athletes. Ubiquitous concession stands prominently promote "cool," "frozen," and "ice cold" refreshment.

Best of all for reporters, soft drinks are on the house. Each media member has been issued a flexible plastic card to activate vending machines. Cotton-mouthed chroniclers of the events may find this the ultimate gold card. For those who can't readily reach one of these vending oases, however, the best strategy may simply be to find an indoor event. That's the ticket, at least, to the Goosebump Games.