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Hundreds take to bleachers early for Academy Awards show

March 23, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The sun is hot and the seats are hard outside Shrine Auditorium. And the Academy Awards aren’t until Monday.

It made no difference to hundreds of people who raced Saturday for choice spots on bleachers overlooking the red carpet that will lead celebrities inside come Oscar night.

``I want to be able to see them THIS close. That’s why I came,″ said Phyllis Ortega, 46, of Riverside after she bagged a seat in the coveted first row of bleachers.

There are 1,000 seats available in the bleachers and that’s how many people Academy officials allowed in. They were permitted to take their seats a day earlier this year and come and go as they please until 1 p.m. Monday. In years past, bleacher enthusiasts weren’t allowed in until Sunday.

Some people pitched tents nearby on Thursday and lined up outside the entrance to the bleachers just after dawn Saturday.

``I’ve been first in line 14 times out of the last 18 years,″ said Frank Marquez, 40, of Commerce, claiming the title again this year after six days in a tent.

``Each year I do this for a week, then I go golfing for a week, and that’s my vacation,″ he said.

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