Pierno gets front row seat at inaugural

January 24, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

You could forgive Harford County Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno for still being a bit star-struck after the inauguration.

After all, she went to President Clinton's inauguration with no tickets and her 16-year-old daughter in tow -- then found herself seated just left of the podium with Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and Turner's husband, among other luminaries.

"We thought we'd hear the speech over the loudspeaker and get a glimpse along the parade route maybe," said the Democrat. "I would have been happy to get in the rear gate with the other 80,000 people."

The day began bright and early when Mrs. Pierno, who campaigned for President Clinton, decided to catch the train from Edgewood to Washington with her daughter, Julie.

"We didn't have tickets, but I thought it would be nice to be at this history-making event," Mrs. Pierno said.

Their luck turned when they ran into Irene Poulson, who works in the county's Department of Planning and Zoning.

"Her boyfriend's father is a friend of House Minority Leader Robert H. Michaels, who represents Illinois," Mrs. Pierno said. "They invited us to go with them to see if there were extra tickets."

Sure enough, Mrs. Pierno and her daughter got a pair of tickets that allowed them into the area to the left of the podium where the new president was to be sworn in.

At that point, they noticed flashes going off and discovered they were standing near Nelson Mandela and Christie Brinkley.

A few minutes later, the mother and daughter saw Kathleen Turner, and Julie went over to the crowd surrounding the star and struck up a conversation with a man she thought was also waiting for an autograph.

"But it was Kathleen Turner's husband," said Mrs. Pierno, disbelief still evident in her voice. "Well they chatted, and he was very friendly with Julie and then he says 'Hey, Kate, you've got to meet Julie,' and she came over and met her and gave her an autograph."

The Piernos spotted three vacant seats behind Ms. Turner and her husband, and sat behind the couple to chat some more.

"I'm going, 'I don't believe this,' when Kathleen Turner goes, 'Jack,' and I turn around and there's Jack Nicholson standing behind my daughter. So he sits down and so now we're sitting down talking to all of them," Mrs. Pierno said. "That's when I lost it."

As they sat, Mrs. Pierno and her daughter spied Alec Baldwin with Kim Basinger, and Steve Guttenberg. Sally Field also sat behind the Piernos.

"And then Jesse Jackson walked by, and all of a sudden it [the ceremony] started and we just stayed there," said the councilwoman.

Later, a Secret Service agent approached the group and said that because they were in the area for guests of the Cabinet, they would be escorted to the parade viewing area.

"We decided not to push it that far," Mrs. Pierno said. "I think Julie thought we were going to be arrested."

Mrs. Pierno, who represents District C and is one of two Democrats on the seven-member council, had gently ribbed her vTC Republican counterparts at their meeting on the eve of the inauguration, promising them "a full report" at the council's Feb. 2 meeting.

"I thought I'd have to make something up," she said, "but I even have witnesses and pictures."

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