Ben Wong remembers excitedly driving to Santa Anita racetrack with a pocketful of cash.
No, not to bet on the ponies. To buy tickets just made available to various events of the 1984 Summer Olympic games.
The ladies at the ticket windows were handed the extra tickets not claimed through the normal, write-in process for event reservations and were selling them for cash only.
Wong ended up snagging tickets to the men’s basketball gold medal game and the opening ceremony.
Wong, a former West Covina city councilman and now executive director of the Industry Manufacturers Council, liked to talk about “where you were” during the 1984 Olympics.
Anytime you bring up the 1984 Olympics, people who have been there launch into their favorite memories. The whole Olympic games thing hits high points with many folks, as well as nostalgia credits, especially this past week when we learned Los Angeles was granted the 2028 Olympic Games.
If the 2028 games are half as fun as 1984, they will have been a success.
I think the Olympic committee must have had an easy choice back then. The only other city in contention was Tehran.
I remember everyone saying the games would be dead on arrival. No one wanted it. The Soviets, East Germans and Cubans weren’t coming. Many Angelenos were negative. Some were getting out of town.
But the games turned out to be a blast.
I’ll start at the beginning. The torch relay. I was a reporter with the Orange County Register assigned to the Garden Grove section. A throng crammed the sidewalks. When the runner, a handicapped girl, reached the hand-off point, she was carried off on their shoulders in victory.
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