One of Team USA’s most dedicated fans is packing for his ninth Olympics. Menlo Park’s Chuck Jones has been a spectator at every summer games for the last 30 years.
This year, he not only has his tickets and pin collection in tow, but his family too. For the Joneses, the Olympics aren’t just a sporting event, they’re tradition.
“I’ve been really fortunate,” Jones said. “It’s tied to really family, so it was with my mother seeing closing ceremonies in Los Angeles. What really got me hooked was when my father was doing the track & field and diving in Seoul.”
Chuck Jones’ late father is legendary NBC sportscaster Charlie Jones, who was in the booth in Seoul in 1988 announcing the play-by-play for sprinters Flo-Jo, Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis.
Chuck Jones spent part of his honeymoon in Korea in 1988, and then it was off to the other races.
In Barcelona, his favorite memory is getting to see the USA’s original “Dream Team” play from three rows away.
During the 1996 Atlanta games, Muhammad Ali’s lighting the torch stuck out most.
Then in Australia, “Sydney was the people. Hanging out with everyone at the harbor – Aussies are just great,” Jones said.
Eight years ago, he thought it was time to bring his two daughters, Morgan and Charlotte Jones, on the adventures. Charlotte was 13 at the time.
“Beijing was sparkling,” Charlotte Jones said, recommending everyone visit an Olympic city during the games at least once in life, if possible. “It’s definitely a fun thing to think that my grandfather started, then my dad continued, and hopefully I’ll continue on into the future.”
Charlotte Jones skipped London in 2012, but now 21, she’s heading to Rio for her second Olympics.
“Despite the fact two of my friends texted about zika virus, I always respond that I’m incredibly excited because it’s going to be an amazing experience,” she said.
This time, Chuck Jones will be traveling with his wife, two daughters and his son-in-law.
“We start off with team handball, fencing, table tennis. We’ve got some diving tickets, a couple of beach volleyball tickets,” he said, explaining they entered a lottery more than a year ago to get tickets.
But it’s not all sports and sightseeing — it’s a way for the Joneses to make family memories.
Their home is teeming with Olympic mementos, including 5,000 pins Chuck Jones has collected over the years. Charlotte Jones describes her father’s collection as “obsessive-collectivist” meets the “Kentucky Derby.”
Some classic pins, make their way onto her father’s Olympic hat, which he wears to alert other pin traders.
“The only place you don’t look like a geek wearing the hat I have is at the Olympics,” Chuck Jones said while his daughter groaned.
Chuck Jones plans on going to the Olympics until he physically can’t anymore, and then will pass the torch to his daughters – even if it comes in the form of a hat.