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Olympic Flame Narrows Path to Atlanta

July 17, 1996

NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) _ Leone Grizzard couldn’t reach anyone she knew when she learned she’d be carrying the Olympic torch. So she dialed random numbers and shared the news with strangers.

``I was so excited, I would dial up and say, `You don’t know who I am, but I’m carrying the Olympic torch!,‴ Grizzard exclaimed after carrying the torch Wednesday along streets lined with antebellum homes.

``I just hope I have a lot of film from this because it’s going to be hard to explain it all to my grandchildren,″ Grizzard said.

Grizzard, a fourth cousin of late syndicated Southern humor columnist Lewis Grizzard, lit the cauldron at Newnan’s city park, nestled among mansions that residents boast survived the Civil War.

``This is the biggest thing to come through here since Sherman,″ said Newnan native Wilma Wilson, 77, who was among hundreds of people lining the park.

Longtime resident Lavinia Barron said carrying the torch was the ultimate gift she could give her hometown.

``I felt like I was representing everyone I loved,″ said Barron, whose family was among Newnan’s first residents. ``I felt so proud to bring in good news, when it seems all we hear lately is the bad news of the world.″

The torch was scheduled to arrive in Stone Mountain in metropolitan Atlanta before sunrise Thursday for the final stretch of its journey to Friday’s opening ceremony.

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