Glendenings and 3,000 friends celebrate new era INAUGURATION OF GOVERNOR GLENDENING

January 19, 1995|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,Sun Staff Writer

With bursts of confetti and a rainstorm of balloons, 12 years of pent-up inaugural-ball fever gave way last night to a rollicking party marking the beginning of the Glendening era.

And then everyone went back to talking about budgets.

Oh sure, there was drinking and dancing and eating and the kind of black-tie finery that says power party. But last night's sold-out inaugural ball, at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro was also an opportunity for some primo face-time with the new powers that are, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and his personal hero, political adviser and wife, Frances Anne.

"I haven't met him, but I will," vowed Rosetta Stith, principal at Baltimore's Laurence G. Paquin High School for teenage mothers, who also attended Tuesday night's bash at Camden Yards. "Wherever the action is, I'm there."

She wasn't the only one -- spotted amid the 3,000-some crowd were all sorts of movers and shakers: Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger II, former Rep. Tom McMillen, former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's aide Lainy LeBow-Sachs, various legislators, lobbyists.

But the stars were definitely the Glendenings and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and company.

The family theme that played out all day continued at the ball, with all sorts of Glendenings and Kennedys here and there. The governor's sister came out from California for the fun and wouldn't you know it, her name is April.

"April 'n Parris!" the first lady punned.

With her feathery hair, the slender, bird-like Mrs. Glendening looked even more avian last night in a hot-pink off-the-shoulder dress with puffy wings of sleeves.

"A year ago, I happened to see this dress, it's my favorite color, so I bought it. I told Parris, I bought the inauguration dress, you better win," Mrs. Glendening said with a laugh.

If the Glendenings were the homecoming king and queen, Mrs. Townsend and her husband, David, were the kids who won the dance contest.

Breaking away early from the schmooze-filled table-hopping that occupied most of the crowd, they took to the dance floor to shimmy energetically to a medley of "The Mashed Potato" and other nostalgic hits.

"It's been great," Mr. Townsend said, as his wife, like many other women in the room by late evening, slipped discreetly out of her shoes while chatting with a group of people.

"It was great to see the band from my high school, Dulaney. It's just a very happy time."

Who would have thought that someone with as wonky a reputation as Governor Glendening would be the one to bring back the inaugural ball after 12 years of gala-less transitions of power?

"It seemed like the natural order of things," the new governor said. "To me, it was an oddity when there wasn't a ball."

Paul Wolman has professional reasons for welcoming back the inaugural ball. The Baltimore party planner -- his company, P. W. Feats did Tuesday night's fete at Camden Yards -- is all for good causes for celebration.

"Parties can ignite a group. You can sense the camaraderie here tonight, everyone's relieved the court fight is over, everyone's part of the parade," Mr. Wolman said.

Indeed, high spirits were in order. Everyone was snapping pictures of each other and the Glendenings, lining up for the buffet and drinks, venturing onto the dance floor.

"It's been worth it," lawyer Ben Alston said of the $125 ticket price. "The food was good, I helped on the campaign, and so it's good to celebrate."

His wife, Corliss, had no complaints either, except for the fact that she couldn't get her husband onto the dance floor.

"I'm waiting for maybe some James Brown," he said, as, instead, the band went into "The Electric Slide."

Not only was this the first inaugural ball since 1983, it was also the first ever to be held in Prince George's County, the governor's home base, representing a shift in gubernatorial power in state politics from Baltimore to the Washington suburbs.

"But he'll be," promised one guest, Arnold Hawkins, a Baltimore lawyer originally from Prince George's, "the governor for all of Maryland."

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