Dion Rich made it to Norway. He made it to Lillehammer. He made it to the opening ceremony of the XVII Winter Olympics. And he made it to The Times office in the main press center.
The Great Pretender has done it again.
Rich is the San Diego gadfly who gets his kicks crashing major events, most notably the Super Bowl. His proudest possession is a photo of former Dallas Coach Tom Landry being carried off the field after Super Bowl XII by Cowboy players and--ta-da!--Dion Rich.
Rich didn’t make the sideline at the Super Bowl last month at Atlanta--NFL security-types know him too well now, he said--but he was able to crash Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s party the Friday before the game. That, though, is no test for him, because it is a gathering of several thousand merry-makers and security is not particularly tight.
The MPC here, as the main press center is called, is quite another matter.
If you recall what airport security was like during the Persian Gulf War, you have some idea of what people have to go through to get in here. Everybody wears a laminated credential, complete with photo, affiliation, signature and a bar code that is scanned every time through the doors. Briefcases, camera cases, backpacks and coats are radar-scanned. And even before you get that far, you have to have the right credential to get past the guard hut out front.
The uncredentialed have no chance of getting in.
Then there is Rich.
“Here’s my credential,” he said, flashing a sweater proclaiming, “Lillehammer 1994.”
So how did he make it into the MPC?
“I waited out there (at the guard hut) until there was a crowd. Then I went around the (traffic-control arm) and just walked in. When I got inside, it got tough. Security asked for my credential and I told them I had to pick it up here. They didn’t buy that and told me I had to go over to (the accreditation office).
“So I went out and started walking around the building, trying every door I came to. When I came to one that said staff only, I walked in. And here I am.”
Rich had warmed up for that by crashing the opening ceremony, although he had bought a ticket, just to be on the safe side. He showed reporters his ticket, though, complete with stub.
“Nobody asked me for it,” he said. “I just walked in.”
Dion Rich does that a lot.