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.
No tiaras or tuxedos here -- the invitation for the official inaugural nationalities event, "Salute to America's Heritage," called for lederhosen, embroidered shawls and wooden shoes.
The scent of 1,000 bratwurst filled the lobby of the Health and Human Service Building last evening as more than 25 nationalities offered arts and crafts, songs, folk dances and foods of their countries.
"Hard-working Americans, the people that make the plumbing work, are the people at this inaugural event, most of whose names you can barely pronounce," said Dave Rosenberg, who was among those who organized the ethnic event, conceived only two weeks ago. The lobby was filled with Japanese dancers, Lituanian ponckas (jelly doughnuts), Hungarian embroidery and swirling Bavarian folk dancers.
"They wanted to hold this event in a gym. I said no, give us a place with dignity," said Rosenberg. "Someone just came up to me and said he was sick of going to sardine parties in rented tuxedos. This is something he can see, hear, smell and taste.
"Mangiare (to eat, in Italian) is the essence of life," said Roberto Severino, president of the Italian Cultural Society. The Italian booth was a popular food attraction.
"This is what the grass roots is all about," said Steve Postupack, director of the committee. "It was 83.9 percent of the ethnic community that voted for Reagan."
Said Rosenberg, who echoed the sentiments of many for whom this would be their only inaugural event, "Frank Sinatra should be here with the Sons of Italy -- not performing at the Capital Centre."