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Working at Olympics a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ Thing

July 23, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ They probably could make more money and definitely could sleep better elsewhere. But thousands of college students working here say there’s no place they’d rather be than here during the Olympics.

``It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We’ll always remember it,″ said Melanie Pegram of Miami, who was selling frozen daiquiris to the thirsty throngs at Bud World in Centennial Olympic Park.

From all corners of the country _ and from abroad _ students are earning extra money while rubbing shoulders with athletes and other celebrities, taking in some of the games and having a grand old time in their off hours.

Recruiters and vendors hired 20,000 workers for tasks ranging from light construction to peddling T-shirts or hot dogs.

Not all have had a good experience. As many as 3,000 students saw the jobs and housing they were promised never materialize. The state is investigating.

Those who did find jobs, however, will have plenty to talk about.

``None of us could pass up the Olympic experience. Just being here is enough,″ said Brian Noble of Seneca Falls, N.Y., making $10 an hour as manager of a small trailer outside CNN Center that is part of chain called Stadium Stuff.

Noble, 20, a junior at Clarkson University, said hundreds of young people _ including some French, Germans, Russians and Irish _ are selling pennants, hats, stuffed Izzy Olympic mascots and other souvenirs for Stadium Stuff.

For many, all expenses are paid except meals and incidentals. Noble shares a house in suburban Decatur with six others.

Pegram, 20, a senior next year at Clemson University, bunks at Southside High School. She sleeps with five others on twin beds in a classroom and takes showers in the locker room. But there’s a bonus: Atlanta police also have accommodations there, ``so we feel real safe.″

She’s earning $7.50 an hour plus $10 to $12 in tips during 10-hour shifts at Bud World.

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