Annapolis is a lovely city at any time of year, but it is never more beautiful than at Christmas. Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Hilda Mae Snoops very nicely included me in one of their holiday parties held at the governor's mansion this past week.
Youngsters sang carols as guests arrived, and few guests went inside until they had admired a marvelous wooden train that adorns the lawn. CXS, B&O and Conrail are among the decals on the different cars and I am told that an Amish man from the Dutch Market on the Eastern Shore made the train.
It was a festive gathering that included Margaret and Jim (McKay) McManus, who were chatting about Jim's upcoming TV work that includes covering the Rose Bowl Parade and a special on athletes and drugs. But none of those things seem to compare with a soccer match they saw recently in which their grandson, James, was the star.
Sen. Nancy Murphy was telling funny stories, but the only one I can repeat is about the time she had her car lubed and didn't have enough money, so she --ed across the street to get $30 from a money machine. "Ask for a lesser amount" appeared on the screen, indicating that her balance was precariously low. Senator, maybe that's a message to you from the taxpayer revolt people.
Among those oohing and aahing at the spectacular new Waterford chandelier hung recently in the mansion's main drawing room were Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Kahline, retired president of Potomac Edison; Mayor of Easton and Mrs. George P. Murphy; Matt and Rosetta Devito, CEO of the Rouse Company; and President of the Senate, Mike Miller and his wife, Patty. I did notice that Miller didn't go near the delicious food in the dining room and I hear it's because he has a bet with Prince George's Del. Gary Alexander about who can lose the most weight. Alexander is making it difficult for Miller -- he heard the senator had a real weakness for Dove Bars, so he sent three cases to his home.
Others I enjoyed seeing were Carol and George McGowan, Charlie and Pam Kelly, Nancy and Lou Grasmick, Chestertown Mayor and Mrs. Elmer Horsey (he looked spiffy in his colorful patchwork pants, green suede jacket and red tie), Barbara and David Kornblatt, Ann and Chris Hartman, Marty and Thalia Resnick, Shirley and Brice Phillips, Al Flora, Henry Knott Jr. and Sr., Clarisse Mechanic, Dr. Mildred Otenasek, Jim and Dixie Hindman, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Hays and former Baltimore city Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro and his wife Margie.
The Christmas Trees were decorated and frost was in the air inside the State Office Building Tuesday. But it was a chilly greeting for Gov. Schaefer, Lt. Gov. Mickey Steinberg and cabinet members Wayne Cawley, Torrey Brown, Nancy Grasmick, Randy Evans and Bill Fogle, who walked out of a miniature state house dressed as choir boys and girls.
The annual State Tree Trimming Contest and Party is usually quite festive and one of the highlights for state employees, many of whom spend months working on ornaments and ideas to make their trees one of the four winners.
The event is coordinated by one of the governor's aides, Lainy LeBow. (State agencies decorate trees that depict their agency and the county they represent.) After the judging, everyone is treated to a free lunch donated by Martin's caterers.
This is my third year of judging the trees. They were fantastic. Any one could have won a prize. Certainly, there's a lot of doom and gloom about who will lose state jobs, but you didn't pick that up from the employees, who worked hard, not only coming up with ideas on the theme of the trees, but also making many of their own decorations.
I had a good time judging the trees with Baltimore Museum of Art director Arnold Lehman and Larry Rivitz from the Becker Company. It was difficult to pick only four winners out of the 20 or so trees entered, but the four winners were Frederick County's Department of Planning, Wicomico County's Department of Agriculture, Cecil County's Department of Natural Resources and Dorchester County's Department of the Environment.
Another highlight of the day was the lovely singing by school children from all over the state.
*Sylvia Badger's column also appears Tuesday in the Accent section of The Evening Sun.