Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

Inaugural Eve always gives Washington a sense of its power, if not its glory. The rich, the famous, the venerable and numerous variations thereof flock to the capital for the quadrennial ritual.

But this city has a way of surprising and for the revelers Wednesday night it was the weather that amazed. Traffic crawled and halted, and men whose tread in the corridors of power used to make subordinates quake were reduced to slipping on ice and cursing the cab system.

But for those who arrived at the well-lighted places - especially those in limousines whose prices were up some 500 per cent for his round of genteel bacchanalia - the Inaugural had its touches of delight, foolishness, status, strife and well-fed pleasures. Establishment Crowd

The last time Pat Anderson looked (about 10 days ago to be exact), the Inaugural Address Jimmy Carter would deliver at noon Thursday was "short - it may not be sweet."

Anderson declined to elaborate Wednesday night at the party Hedley Donovan, editor-in-chief of Time Inc., and Hugh Sidey, Washington bureau chief, gave at historic Decatur House for the Establishment multitudes, past, present and future.

It wasn't Jimmy Carter's speech or Inauguration, though, that everybody was talking about. It was how dare Carter arrive from Georgia at the height of rush hour traffic, complicated by freezing temperatures.

Jill Vollner, member of the Watergate prosecution team, walked the distance between Decatur House and the State Department.Former CIA director Richard Helms got out of his car and let his wife, Cynthia, find a parking space.

Guests were jammed together in the striped, heated tent pitched in the garden behind Decatur House, with only canvas separating their shoes from ice and snow.

You could tell who had cachet simply by how fashionably early they arrived. The "ins" like Secretary of State-designate Cyrus Vance were out by 6 p.m., due 15 minutes later at the Kennedy Center Gala.

The "outs" included consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who said he "wasn't even invited - I was too busy trying to make sure Carter appointed the right people."

At the buffet table were former Arkansas Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and his wife, Betty. "I'm enthusiastic," smiled Fulbright. "I think he (Carter) has a wonderful opportunity. He's a new man with a new outlook.

"We've had a dismal period in the last 15 years.I think he's going to give us a new approach in foreign policy. What he has to do is stop the arms race and solve the Middle East conflict."

Fulbright, who called himself a "retired observer," said he had no plans to take part in the new administration.

-Holie I. West and Donn'e Radcliffe Liberal Gathering

It was the kind of Inauguration eve gathering where a perspiring man in a tweed hat and fur-trimmed coat could stand in the doorway and shout frantically "I've found Muriel, now I've lost LaVerne" and no one bothered to glance his way.

About 1,000 people supporting the liberal political group, Americans for Democratic Action, jammed into the three floors of the Museum of African Art Wednesday night, signed checks for $15, crushed homemade tunafish sandwiches on each other, drank champagne and swapped addresses of other partie.

"I knew you would be there," said former Washington socialite, Scottie Smith, smiling triumphantly as the spied attorney Joseph Rauh. She then presented him with a red-and-white tie decorated with crabs that she had bought for him in the Virgin Islands.

On another floor Stewart Mott, the philanthropist, wasn't giving anything away but appeared to have an endless line of admirers. "Carter's appointments have been disappointing so far," he said. "They seem like a bunch of retreads."

As a group, ADA had opposed the nomination of Griffin Bell for Attorney General. But Wednesday night the talk of Jimmy Carter's administration was kind, the mood jubilant. "Let's give Jimmy Carter a chance," said Maynard Jackson, the mayor of Atlanta ard one of Wednesday night's hosts. "It's too soon to begin complaining." Rauh, who testified against Bell, whose nomination was approved Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, "Well, let's hope there will be more Griffin Bells. Let's just hop for the best."

Besides Jackson, all the other hosts showed up - UN ambassador-designate Andrew Young, Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.) and ADA president Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), who said, "There's more excitment for this Inauguration than any I've ever seen."

But one man in the frenzy found his way through the mink coats and gabardine suits - I. M. Pei, the famous architect, strolling quietly around and pronouncing the museum "one of my favorite places."

-Jacqueline Trescott Celebrity Spotting

Barbara Walters! The several dozen George Washington University students who spent Wednesday night standing in the old outside the F Street club, hoping to spot celebrities at Henry Ford II's party, got Alan Greenspan's date immediately.

But the rest of the evening they were reduced to asking people, "Who are you - somebody important?" because the faces of bigtime Republican business people don't quite leap out at waiting fans, ordinarily.

The Ford event, third of his series of Inaugural parties, was as crowded as usual, but not with the new administration and show-business stars the parties had drawn in 1969 and 1973.

Maybe it was competition from the Inaugural Gala - Ford's party started at 6:30, but gala ticketholders had to be in their seats by 7.

Or maybe it was that the new administration is Democratic. Ford had given money to both candidates and calls himself an independent, but the company's friends have been Republican.

At any rate, the Henry Ford family - he, his daughter Anne, his son Edsel and Edsel's wife - planned to attend the Inaugural ceremony, but to skip the Inaugural Balls and go home Thursday afternoon.

Edsel Ford said that he, for one, had to be back in Boston today, on his job as assistant district sales manager for Lincoln-Mercury.

-Judith Martin Interlude: Feasting

There were shrimp and barbecued chicken legs and lots of very pade meat slices on very pale bread, and a great big Sacher torte with Sacher written on it in chocolate.

But the big treat Henry Ford II gave his guests Wednesday night was caviar - big bowls set in ice and filied with huge, pearly-gray Iranian caviar. It's a sight rarely seen on the Washington party circuit, outside of the Iranian embassy.

True devotees never left it. They remained faithfully, staring at the auxiliary bowls of shredded onion and hard-boiled egg, when the canviar bowl was empty. The test of Ford's largesse was to be whether another bowl would be brought out. And it was.

Judith Martin Home State Folks

"Let me tell you that Atlanta society was never like this," said the gamine FAA lawyer in basic black who had thought that a Georgia State Society party might be untacky and fun.

She surveyed the scene at the Longworth Cafeteria with wry disdain, where the last of the 1,000 guests sidled up for the last of the bourbon and the usual roast beef/shrimp/chicken-salad buffet and took down the festoons of blue, white and pink "Welcome Jimmy" balloons to carry off as three souvenirs of their own man's hard-won inauguration.

But other guests, welcomed graciously by the State Society president and his family, gamboled and jived unself-consciously with the Gran Jazz Company, a wholesome Dixieland group which often plays at the country club in Griffin, Ga. and seemed to have a good time. They were liable to run into long-lost acquaintances, and explode into flurries of "Glad to see yous" and quick kisses and hugs.

Mrs. William Tyler and her son Terry, clad in blue jeans, vest, and pastel drip-dry shirt, had driven up with a cluster of CB-ers from around Columbia, Ga. and they thought the party was "pretty nice." Terry and his father could say they at least had gone quail hunting on Jimmy Carter's property, although they weren't intimate friends, and Mrs. Tyler pronounced Rosalynn "a real lady, though I can't say as much for . . . his mother" then laughed.

Donna Landry Interlude: Feasting

No one made a dent in the jalapeno pepper cheese dip but the other leftovers were making their way out of the State Department in foil-covered boxes at Wednesday night's party by 51.3, the women's group that worked for Jimmy Carter's election. Several departing guests, boxes in hand, said they hated to see such good food go to waste.

B&B Carterers, which seemed to be everywhere Wednesday - partly because they are unionized and the other caterers are not, and the Inaugural Committee had decreed that it would do business only with unionized shops - had so many jobs they had to subcontract the 51.3 party. The bartenders and waiters union said it was okay, though, even if the subcontractor was nonunion.

Mushroom and spinach crepes were going well. So was the made-to-order Irish coffee, but as usual the shrimp and cocktail sauce went first.

-Marian Burros Caught in a Crush

You couldn't really call it a party. In the old days they probably would have called it a mash. But somewhere among the teeming throngs upstairs in the Kennedy Center Atrium more than 500 people got a quick glimpse of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter as they swept through the room shaking every hand in sight. Carter stayed the longest with Lauren Becall, grabbing her and embracing her affectionately. Pulling away from the embrace, he said, "I only hope I won't disappoint you."

Once Carter had left there seemed to be two major centers of activity at the party, a stand-up cold buffet. One was the table where Carter's mother, Miss Lillian, sat and received people from the entrance of the Atrium. Shirley MacLaine, Leonard Berstein, Hank Aaron, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Paul Simon were all led over to the table to greet an affable but tired mother of the president-elect.

Although Paul Newman drew his share of attention, as did Vice President-elect Mondale and Joseph Califano, the other center of activity was clearly where Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson stood. Rosalynn Carter's sister, Chip Carter's mother-in-law, and Ruth Carter Stapleton, Jimmy Carter's sister, were among the few who waited in line to shake Beatty's hand and say how thrilled they were to meet him.

As the room cleared out, Mike Nichols and Elaine May still hovered together at a corner table, reminiscing. MacLaine and her friend Pete Hamill were greeting old friends and Newman and Joanne Woodward lingered to chat with a few admirers.

After Carter disappeared, the celebrities, feeling the absence of any need to stay, began to slip away, knowing there wou'd be a mad dash through the celebrity-seekers in front of the Kennedy Center and the hopeless search for lost limousines.

-Sally Quinn No Dancing, Please

The party given Wednesday night at the Corcoran by the Democratic National Committee for major contributors, among others, was a success to most of the 2,000 present, less than that to some others.

"Isn't this a great party?" asked a California committeeman.

"It's a dead party," said a New Yorker, who had been asked by a Corcoran employee to stop dancing. The man's wife agreed.

You could listen to the music, applaud "Dixie", scream like a rebel, beat time with your foot, eat, drink, and be merry up to a point; dancing was forbidden, a Corcoran official said, to protect the artwork.

Outgoing DNC chairman Robert Strauss was there, saying goodbye; his successor, former Maine Gov. Kenneth Curtis, was being welcomed. So was new Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini.Charles and Lynda Robb were there briefly. So were Luci Nugent, Averell Harriman and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.).

At 10:45, the lights began blinking; shortly the band stopped, the bars closed, and the crowd started filing out. The on-time 11 p.m. ending came as a surprise to some coming over from the Kennedy Center following the concert here and created a jam at the door. The latecomers were clearly outnumbered and lost ground steadily to the departing guests.