The task of moving between 7,000 and 8,000 people to and from Carter receptions at the White House on Friday and Saturday is requiring the combined help of the Army, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Executive Protection Service and the Secret Service.
Personnel from those agencies will help coordinate the delicate timing needed to move the guests, who have been divided into seven different groups depending on their connection with the Carter presidential campaign, from two staging areas at Ft. McNair and the Washington Hilton to the Southwest entrance of the White House.
Only the smallest groups, the governors, members of Congress and diplomats will arrive under their own steam at their respective receptions.
The individual groups have been formed from the 1,000 people who had members of the Carter family overnight in their homes during the campaign; the 1,250 members of the Democratic National Committee, business and labor leaders: 1,600 Georgians, and the 1,200 members of the Armed Forces.
Each group will have 1 1/2 hours in which to do the following: pick up their engraved invitations at the lower level of the White House, walk upstairs to the East Room, where they will gulp down a glass of juice or unspiked punch (no coffee because it is too hot to handle for such large crowds); gobble up 10,000 Danish pastries or 20,000 butter cookies; listen to musical ensembles as they form a line through the red, green and blue rooms in order to shake hands with the Vice President and Mrs. Mondale in the state dining room and move on to shake hands with President and Mrs. Carter, who will be standing under the Presidential Seal in the crosshall.
The Carters will have between 3 and 5 seconds to spend with each of the guests, who must carry their coats throughout the reception. The logistics of checking that many coats was impossible to solve, according to Mrs. Carter's press secretary, Mary Hoyt.
The coat problem is nothing compared to the logistical problem of moving so many people in and out of the White House.
At Ft. McNair they must be in the "holding area" 45 minutes before departure so that there will be time to "process" them. If their names do not appear on a list, they do not get on one of the 22 busses being used to transport them.
Those who will not get on the busses include hundreds, who were not invited to the receptions but are related to those who were. Many have come to Washington, partly with the idea that once they are here they might get invited to the White House. But with the exception of children under 5, they will have to stay at Ft. McNair. All of those left behind will be plied with coffee and cocoa and entertained by nonstop musical groups.
Meanwhile, back at the White House, the staff will be coping with the nonstop clean-up and dishwashing between and during the receptions; several of which follow in rapid succession.
Rex Scouten, head of usher at the White House, is hoping for some good weather so the clean-up crew will not get cold when it carries the dirty glasses out from the East Room onto the terrace, down the stairs and back around the other side to the pantry where they will be washed and readied for the next group.