Shrugging off the exhaustion of a 100-party weekend, Inaugural Washington pulled its furs back on yesterday and dashed once more into tight-scheduled celebration. Intimate it was not, as 8,000 Distinguished Ladies were feted at the Kennedy Center, Vice President-elect Bush and his family made 15,000 new acquaintances at a museum on the Mall and the scent of 1,000 bratwurst floated elsewhere over commingled ladies and gentlemen of the presidential transition. Gala, it was.
"Where are you from?" was the question most often heard yesterday morning at the Kennedy Center, and from the answers given, most people seemed to be from the large, square states that dominate Middle America. "I'm from Ohio," said one of the 8,000 Distinguished Ladies who swooped down on the Center for an inaugural reception between 11 a.m. and noon.
"Oh, yes," said a new acquaintance, "that's a suburb of Pennsylvania, isn't it?"
Distinguished Ladies poured in by private car, chauffered limousine and buses that bore "Distinguished Ladies' Reception" placards. Nobody seemed to know how they had earned the title, but one of them suggested, "If you can get a ticket, I guess you're distinguished."
The guests filled all four of the auditoriums at the Kennedy Center for brief programs, including appearances by the first and second ladies-to-be. fThen the crowd milled about in the long halls and the Grand Foyer, many sipping Almaden champagne (which flowed like water) and taking pictures of one another. In the Grand Foyer, the Marine Band played marches.
One group wore 10-gallon hats (actually about seven-gallon size) with "I'm from Dixon, Ill." printed on the hatband. "There are about 15,000 people in our town, "said a proud citizen. "More than 200 flew in, and another 200 are coming by bus -- just driving straight through. Then we have our band -- 100 kids who got new costumes and they're going to march in the parade."