In the middle of the popcorn-scented bedlam that California Sen. Pete Wilson called a Super Bowl party was the other California senator, Alan Cranston -- the same politician who a few months ago aimed to be taking the presidential oath of office today.
And not only was he planning to attend the inauguration, he had given up seats at Stanford Stadium to return to zero-degree weather in Washington. "I felt I had to be here," said Cranston, who added that he didn't feel any bitterness over last year's events. "I'm ready for the inaugural."
Enjoying the lavish buffet and bars at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill were 1,000 mainly Californians, sporting all types of 49ers paraphernalia and eating donated food, from pasta to prunes. "It's colder, but we all still have the same spirit," said Marie Lull of Manhattan Beach, who had come with 170 other members of the Republican Associates Club. In the midst of cheers for the 49ers, actor Hugh O'Brian explained that inaugurations are part of history. "If I wasn't asked, I would still be here," he said.
Just before half time, the Beach Boys arrived to take the stage with Wilson, who said he thought there were more people in the room than at the stadium. Wilson joked about the shivers the Californians were experiencing: "The weather here should let you know what a selfless act of patriotism it is to serve you here."
Just minutes before the 49ers' victory, Steve Walsh, the son of 49ers coach Bill Walsh and a reporter for KGO radio in San Francisco, arrived to cover the party. The decision to attend the inauguration was not a toss-up, he said.
"I talked it over with my dad, and he said the inaugural was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Walsh. "He said there would be other Super Bowls." The reporter-son didn't see much of the game, as he had to scramble to find a band from Sacramento to get their reaction to the cancellation of the inaugural parade.