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Kroger Loans Blimp for Olympics Security

June 14, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ A 200-foot-long blimp described as the world’s largest has been loaned to Atlanta for Olympics police work and security.

The red-white-and-blue Kroger blimp ``Spirit of Atlanta″ was officially dedicated Thursday by Mayor Bill Campbell and Police Chief Beverly Harvard with champagne bottles shattered on its steps.

``We are delighted that Kroger has donated the use of the `Spirit of Atlanta’ and its crew of 22 to the Atlanta Police Department,″ said Campbell, who is supposed to pilot the airship Monday. ``If you see a blimp out of control in Atlanta, who know who it is.″

The blimp will be used to help police monitor traffic and crowds during the Summer Games. Police will remove seats and install visual monitoring equipment to aid in security measures. The blimp can seat two pilots and as many as 12 passengers with monitoring equipment.

``It’s hard to predict what the greatest concern will be during the games, but most of the time, it will be traffic management,″ said police Maj. Jon Gordon, adding that police also will use video cameras on the ground to monitor traffic patterns.

Because the supermarket chain is not an Olympic sponsor, ``we felt as though there was only one thing we could do and that would be to donate the use of the blimp,″ said Brent Scott, Kroger vice president of merchandising.

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