State Sen. Tommie Broadwater invited his 200 birthday guests to "party until we all get tired" last week at the Ebony Inn in Fairmont Heights.
And party they did, dancing to disco music, to Otis Redding, to James Brown; drinking the pink champagne that poured from fountains around the room; eating mounds of ribs, chicken, potato salad and cake and talking, laughing, in general, just being friendly.
Broadwater was celebrating his 35th birthday and the 53 members of the 25th District Democratic Alliance helped him to do it. They donated much of the food and invited Broadwater's friends, neighbors, political pals and business associates.
Jean Williams, vice president of the alliance, said, "We're just concerned citizens giving an informal birthday party."
The keynote of the party was informality, although dress ranged from Broadwater's velvet evening suit and blue brocade evening gowns to red and white checkered pants worn with a white halter top.
India Wallis of Landover said she came "to show our support for what he has done for our community," a remark echoed by many throughout the evening.
Members of the Glenarden Seniro Citizens Association were out in force. Broadwater has been instrumental in influencing the city of Glenarden to provide funding for free programs for senior citizens, said one member, Bernice W. Newsome. "We are not a political senior citizens group," she said, "but in everybody's life you must touch politics in some way. We have to wake up to the fact that without a political affiliation we'd be nowhere."
Broadwater tried to downplay the political ramifications of the evening. "We intend to party tonight. This is not a political rally," he said. "But," he added, "since you're all out here tonight . . ." Broadwater then proceeded to introduce all the elected officials in the audience, gathering them on stage with him. The guests included Del. Nathaniel Exum, Del. Francis J. Santangelo, school board members, county council members and State Sen. Steny Hoyer.
"I'm not going to say that this a machine," said Broadwater to those around him. "But it's just part of our organization."
Someone in the audience added, "If it is a machine, it's got to be the most disorganized one I've ever seen."
As the evening wore on, trays full of the ribs Broadwater's restaurant is famous for kept appearing. The bar stayed active and the dance floor grew even more crowded.