O'Malley marches back onstage with guitar

Party

Inauguration Of Martin O'malley

January 18, 2007|By Tanika White and Andrew A. Green | Tanika White and Andrew A. Green,Sun reporters

The band is back together. Or at least it was for a night.

Forced to hang up his guitar during election season, Gov. Martin O'Malley rejoined his band - O'Malley's March - last night to provide the music for his own inaugural party, electrifying a crowd of more than 8,000 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The exuberant mayor-turned-governor jammed in his tuxedo before a cheering crowd of supporters, who embraced his guitar and vocal skills last night as much as they did his politics on Election Day.

"He's the man," Robert Arsenault, president of the International League for Human Rights, said as O'Malley launched into the Bob Dylan classic "The Times They Are A-Changin.'"

"When is the last time you heard a governor sing like this anywhere on the planet?"

O'Malley announced his retirement from the Celtic group during the governor's race, but in a staged scene last night former Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro III goaded him onto the Convention Center stage.

At first, the governor protested.

"Mr. Mayor, I wouldn't want to hurt my gravitas," O'Malley said. "Wait one second. I'll be right back."

But the party started well before O'Malley's performance.

"We've already had fun," said Del. Jane E. Lawton, of Montgomery County, just 10 minutes into the festivities. "Eating," she added.

O'Malley's camp enlisted the culinary participation of restaurants and eateries from all over the area to provide victuals and drink: Ruth's Chris Steak House, Blue Seal Grill, Clyde's of Columbia, Helmand, Miss Shirley's, Fleming's, Oceanaire, Phillips. A team of chefs from Wegman's market was there.

The buffet stands were a highlight of the night for some, and a bane for others who stood in snaking lines waiting to sample crab and seafood dishes.

The recommendation from Del. Nancy J. King, a Montgomery County Democrat: "Try the oyster soup."

That is, if you could find it.

Music blared from all corners of the gala, providing something for listeners of all walks.

Crowds rivaled those at smallish rock concerts. People wandered about searching for friends or, at the very least, familiar faces.

"It's wild in here," said Valeri Marriott of Finksburg, stepping carefully through the third-floor throng, where the new governor was rumored to be.

"It's very crowded," agreed a frowning Helene Harris of Pikesville. "We thought we were going to meet people here ... but now we're not so sure."

The saving grace of their night: a possible O'Malley sighting. Downstairs, however. On the second floor.

In fact, almost two hours into the evening, the only O'Malley actually seen was brother Peter O'Malley and his wife, Mindy, who wore a blue, ruffled, strapless gown that she purchased at a consignment shop in Mount Washington.

Mindy O'Malley deliberately picked a bold color. "It's such a celebration," she said. "I didn't want to wear anything too traditional."

Many party-goers seemed to share her views. The fashions in the various party rooms ranged from the tasteful to the questionable. From head-to-toe sequins and fur coats to khakis, African garb and even a pair or two of jeans, Marylanders took O'Malley at his word when he said he wanted the $50-a-ticket party to be accessible to everyone.

First lady Catherine Curran O'Malley - a Baltimore judge who appeared onstage with her husband, children and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and his family - wore a gown with a wrap in two festive tones of blue.

Other invitees said that when they picked out ensembles for the evening, they were more concerned about the chilly walk from the parking lot to the event.

Del. Adrienne A.W. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat and speaker pro tem of the House of Delegates, wore velvet because of the cold. So did Mary Ann Blotzer of Bowie.

"The rule is, don't bring a coat, and wear comfortable shoes," Blotzer said. "And the secret is Under Armor camisoles for making the trip from the car to the party."

Ah, another plug for Maryland's own.

tanika.white@baltsun.com andy.green@baltsun.com

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