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[whitespace] Brazil recognizes Randy Attaway

Los Gatos--Randy Attaway isn't the kind of guy who likes to brag. So when the president of Brazil awarded him the highest honor that country gives to non-Brazilians, the Los Gatos Town Councilman didn't want to make big fuss about it.

The Los Gatos Weekly-Times only found out after the fact, when Monte Sereno Mayor Jack Lucas called to tattle on Attaway.

And now that the cat's out of the bag, Attaway insists that the award belongs to a whole group of people that helped him organize the Brazilian soccer team's 1994 stay in the town during the World Cup tournament it went on to win.

Attaway received the National Order of the Southern Cross at a Sept. 7 ceremony for Brazil Independence Day at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The award, which came with a proclamation signed by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, was presented by Jose Augusto Lindgren Alues, Brazil's consul general.

"I don't have anything at home on the wall about what's happened, but I think I'm going to put this one up," Attaway says.

"I'm touched they'd give such a prestigious honor to the person who represented the community at the time. It was really a community effort and there were some exceptional people who worked diligently in that period, especially the vice mayor, Pat O'Laughlin."

Attaway may not have chatted up the award because it took so long to come his way. Attaway first heard he might be getting it nearly five years ago, but it wasn't even given to him until Nov. 4, 1997--and that was in Brazil. It took another two years to make its way up to the United States. Attaway says he finally knew it was for real in April, when someone from the San Francisco consul general's office called him asking for a résumé.

Serving as mayor that year, Attaway went to Brazil (at his own expense) to start making arrangements for the team's visit. He also chaired the Brazilian Host Committee, which organized the team's stay and events surrounding its visit.

The team's visit turned into the biggest party the town has ever seen--and for that matter, will likely ever see--as Brizilians, Americans, locals and other international soccer spectators turned the downtown area into one massive party.

"It's something Los Gatos will never forget," he recalls.

Among other parties, ceremonies and events, Attaway also arranged a press party at C.B. Hannegan's for the media pack that followed the team, a Brazilian music concert in the Town Plaza before the U.S.-Brazil game, and arranged to have soccer-playing Los Gatos youngsters watch the Brazilian team practice and to get autographs from the players.

After the Brazilian team won, Brazilian officials arranged to have Attaway and his friend, Sara LaBerge, come back to Brazil on the team's chartered jet.

Attaway says he and now-fiancée LaBerge are planning to head back down to Brazil sometime next year to visit the friends they've made on their trips to the country.

The medal will be displayed at Town Hall, but officials haven't yet decided when or where. Presumably, Attaway will have a little time to show off the medal.

Quietly, of course.
Jeff Kearns

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Web extra to the September 23-29, 1999 issue of Metro.

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