25 Years after Atlanta Olympics

Organizers and Volunteers Gather to Remember the Centennial Games

July 19 marked 25 years since Muhammed Ali lit the cauldron for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Bid leaders and organizers gathered at the Atlanta History Center Monday night to reminisce. Billy Payne, the businessman who led the effort, described former ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young as “the heart and soul” of the bid.

Of the 197 nations participating, some two dozen made their first appearances in the Summer Olympic in Atlanta; 11 were former Soviet republics participating for the first time as independent nations.

Billy Payne says Andy Young was the heart and soul of the Atlanta bid. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Billy Payne says Andy Young was the heart and soul of the Atlanta bid. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Shirley Franklin was a senior policy adviser for Atlanta organizers and later Atlanta's first female mayor. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Shirley Franklin was a senior policy adviser for Atlanta organizers and later Atlanta's first female mayor. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Guest arrivals. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Guest arrivals. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Mike Allen (right) watches Smitty -- aka Albert Smith -- demonstrate the Atlanta hospitality that made him and the city famous. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Mike Allen (right) watches Smitty -- aka Albert Smith -- demonstrate the Atlanta hospitality that made him and the city famous. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Steve McCarthy and Cheryl Cagle of Alem International. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Steve McCarthy and Cheryl Cagle of Alem International. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of Atlanta History Center. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of Atlanta History Center. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Rountree Visual Vault greets visitors with a display of Olympic items. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Rountree Visual Vault greets visitors with a display of Olympic items. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Michael Ross, Yolanda King, and Martin King III. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Michael Ross, Yolanda King, and Martin King III. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Doug Gatlin, a former assistant to Billy Payne, and Peter Candler, one of the original Atlanta dreamers. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Doug Gatlin, a former assistant to Billy Payne, and Peter Candler, one of the original Atlanta dreamers. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Jackie and Jack Tyson, who helped oversee ticket sales. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Jackie and Jack Tyson, who helped oversee ticket sales. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Former UN Ambassador and  Atlanta mayor Andy Young visits with Sheffield and Elizabeth Hale, Mike Russell, and Pete McTier. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Former UN Ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andy Young visits with Sheffield and Elizabeth Hale, Mike Russell, and Pete McTier. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Many flowers in table decorations also were used in bouquets for 1996 medalists. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Many flowers in table decorations also were used in bouquets for 1996 medalists. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
In Atlanta, our diversity makes us great. It does not threaten us, ACOG leader Billy Payne said in his speech at the 25th anniversary event. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
In Atlanta, our diversity makes us great. It does not threaten us, ACOG leader Billy Payne said in his speech at the 25th anniversary event. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Elizabeth Hale and Mike Russell of Herman Russell. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Elizabeth Hale and Mike Russell of Herman Russell. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
George and Carol Hirthler. George Hirthler is the author of The Idealist,  a historical novel based on the life of Pierre de Coubertin. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
George and Carol Hirthler. George Hirthler is the author of The Idealist, a historical novel based on the life of Pierre de Coubertin. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Former US Senator (D-Ga) Wyche Fowler. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Former US Senator (D-Ga) Wyche Fowler. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Exploring The Payne Gallery. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Exploring The Payne Gallery. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Billy Payne with guests at the entrance to the Payne Gallery. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Billy Payne with guests at the entrance to the Payne Gallery. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
A. D. Frazier, Atlanta 1996 COO. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
A. D. Frazier, Atlanta 1996 COO. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
ACOG chief Billy Payne and former UN ambassador Andrew Young drew several standing ovations. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
ACOG chief Billy Payne and former UN ambassador Andrew Young drew several standing ovations. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Claire Haley of the Atlanta History Center. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Claire Haley of the Atlanta History Center. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Carolyn Watson Young. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Carolyn Watson Young. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
ATR Editor Emeritus Ed Hula and ACOG chief Billy Payne. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
ATR Editor Emeritus Ed Hula and ACOG chief Billy Payne. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Atlanta  25th reunion sign. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula
Atlanta 25th reunion sign. Courtesy of ATR - Sheila Hula