Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
Children - except grown-up children, that is - are seldom seen cavorting in the rarefield halls of the Iranian Embassy. But that is what happened Sunday when Iranian Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi opened his doors to 200 children - and their Parents - to benefit the Capital Children's Museum.
"This certainly doesn't look like a normal Washington house," remarked Kitty Daly, 14, who her sister Allie and Theresa Hatfield, daughter of Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), seemed somewhat transfixed by the embassy's elegance.
It was a sentiment echoed by most of the young visitors who arrived spiffly attired in cotton summer dresses or three'piece suits such as the one sported by 11-year-old David graham, son of CBS correspondent Fred Graham.
"I love it here," noted young Graham scarfing down yet another slab of cheese from the assorted cheeses offered on two buffets. "Actually," he added upon further reflection, "it's just the general atmosphere of this place that I like. It's like a palace."
The 5-7 p.m. reception was part of a package deal for those who bought tickets for a Sunday night performance of the musical "Annie" (a project underwritten by Xerox), which was followed by yet another reception at the Commerce Department with the show's cast.
Under the tent-covered patio blocks of small bodies huddled around the buffet tables, which were ladded with cheeses, fruits and Persian cookies, a paper-thin pastry covered with powdered sugar.
Zahedi, meanwhile, was clearly delighted by his young guests. Spurred on by their curiosity, he gave personal tours to several and patiently answered endless streams of questions. "He seems like a nice enough fellow," young Graham reported soberly following his chat with the ambassador.
Although currently in temporary quarters, the Children's Museum hopes to be in permanent housing by next year with a yearly operating budget of $250,000, according to Ann Lewin, the museum director. Among those responsible for Sunday night's activities were Nan Powell, wife of press secretary Jody Powell, and nancy Moore, wife of congressional liaision chief Frank Moore.
Powell, meanwhile, recalled that the first party he ever attended in Washington was at the Iranian Embassy where, much to his chagrin, administration official. "Now I was really up on my Iranian history," reminisced Powell. "I'd been briefed by everybody - Vance included. But when Ardeshir got up to toast he threw me one by toasting both the president and the first lady. And when I got up to return the toast, I didn't have the damndest idea what you called the wife of the shah. Shababou, you understand, was a new word to me in those days."
Although Sunday night was the first time Zahedi had entertained children, it apparently won't be the last. Upon drawing the door prize - alunch for two with "Annic" star, Kathy-Jo Kelly, won by Higet Rochelle - Zahedi announced that "the next time I'm going to cook for the children myself. Of course, that's a secret between them and me. But we may include the parents."