At Camden Yards, time to celebrate


January 18, 1995|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Sun Staff Writer

Parris finally got to party.

Denied a victory celebration on Election Day, Parris N. Glendening whooped it up last night with 2,000 friends and political supporters at a pre-inaugural bash at Camden Yards. And the governor-elect made the most of it, shaking hands for 90 minutes straight and posing for innumerable photos.

After a long and strange drama involving absentee ballots and a court challenge by his opponent, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, Mr. Glendening was finally feeling like the governor-elect. He was almost -- brace yourselves -- animated.

"It's the mundane things that make it seem real," a beaming, flushed Mr. Glendening told reporters last night. "It first hit me when I went to pick up my tuxedo last Wednesday."

Then on Sunday, the next governor found himself cleaning out a guest room to accommodate relatives arriving for his inauguration today.

"I went upstairs and said to [his wife] Frances Anne, 'I really am going to be governor,' " he recalled. "She said: 'We won the court case two days ago.' And I said, 'I know, but I just realized it now.'"

The estimated 2,000 people paid $75 each to attend last night's party. Tonight, 3,000 more -- many of whom were at last night's event -- will pay $125 to attend a black-tie ball in Upper Marlboro.

The sad part is, we had more people who wanted to come to our parties than we could accommodate," Mr. Glendening said. "The fire marshal wouldn't allow us to have any more."

The two events mark the first real inaugural parties in 12 years, since the days of Harry R. Hughes. Four years ago, hard economic times in the state made a party seemed frivolous.

In 1987, Gov. William Donald Schaefer eschewed a ball, although he did step out of a gift box in an admiral's uniform, presented as "Baltimore's gift to Maryland."

Mr. Glendening, 52 and the former Prince George's County executive, opted for more conservative garb last night, a black suit and striped tie.

But he couldn't have received much more attention if he had roamed the halls of Camden Yards in a tiara. It was his night, and most guests appeared more interested in the governor-elect than the array of food or entertainment offered. Organizers finally had to close down the receiving line, generating the few complaints overheard last night.

"It's almost as good as a ballgame," observed former Sen. Julian L. Lapides, now a candidate for city comptroller. "Hey, it's the only ballgame in town."

There was even ball park food -- hot dogs, popcorn and ice cream. But Mr. Glendening, who has been accused of trying to be all things to all people, certainly tried to serve all things to all people. The menu included a raw seafood bar, ham, beef tenderloin, pasta with chicken and pasta with scallops, a salad ,, bar and assorted pastries.

Then there was the entertainment, a multi-cultural melange that should have met anyone's PC standards: jazz and gospel, tap dancing and mambo, the Elkridge Sweet Adelines and the Philippine American Cultural Arts Center.

Politicians, lobbyists and Glendening supports walked beneath red, white and blue bunting, with inspirational slogans emblazoned on ovals. There were familiar aphorisms such as Grantland Rice's advice on winning and losing. And there was the not-so-famous dictum of Lt. Gov.-elect Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: "Leadership challenges us to excel."

But perhaps the most puzzling source of wisdom was Joe Namath -- "When you win, nothing hurts."

A quote from Baltimore scourge Joe Namath -- who led the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory over the Colts in 1969 -- the day after Baltimore once again loses a chance for an NFL team? Isn't that a tad insensitive, governor-elect?

And Mr. Glendening, whose recent talk with Mr. Schaefer included some advice on how to handle the press, readily agreed. "A disgrace," he said. "An absolute disgrace. Who's responsible for this?"

But he was smiling when he said it. Last night, Governor-elect Glendening couldn't stop smiling.

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