Ceremonial Washington once again became a workaday city yesterday, with at least two notable leftovers from Tuesday's presidential inaugural celebration -- a mink coat misplaced by one of the 100,000 visitors to the city, and an oak parquet floor used during Ronald Reagan's swearing-in ceremony that was being cut into souvenir pieces that sold for $28 each.
As workmen removed bleachers along the parade route, plank by plank, and began dismantling various inaugural platforms, many of those who came to the $8-million-plus affair headed for home, jamming the airports, filling hotel lobbies and snarling traffic in downtown streets with limousines -- whisking past the citizens who work here or call this city home.
"Some of them never bothered to check out even though they paid in advance," said Kyle Daly, front desk supervisor at the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Only 380 of the 1,264 inaugural hotel guests remained, she said. But by today, 1,000 rooms would be filled again by members of the National Religious Broadcasters Association convening here until Jan. 31.
"I know they had a nice time," she said. "We got a whole lot of lost coats in our lost and found."
Metro spokesman Cody Pfanstiehl said one of the more than 200,000 people who jammed the subways for the inauguration Tuesday had lost a mink coat, and called to see if it had been found on a subway train. None was.
Sale of the 100,000 finger-size portions of floorboard from Reagan's swearing-in stand on Capitol Hill is an inaugural first. Jim Hall, a Pittsburgh businessman proposed the idea as a way to help Reagan's inaugural committee pay its bills. Each piece is encased in Lucite.
Some visitors lost their cars, albeit temporarily. Metro police ticketed and towed 97 vehicles, and the U.S. Park Police, between 130 and 150 from around the Smithsonian Institution's museums, the Watergate and Kennedy Center.
Among the cars towed was a limousine assigned to the presidents of the three Federated States of Micronesia, a newly recognized American-sponsored ministate in the mid-Pacific.
The limousine's driver, a U.S. Coast Guard enlisted man, had parked the then-empty car on the Mall long enough to make a brief visit to a portable comfort station. When he returned, police had already ordered the vehicle towed off. An aide found the driver sitting dejectedly on the curb.
The jubilant celebration of national pride that accompanied Reagan's inauguration left barrels of trash strewn throughout downtown Washington. By early morning yesterday, whatever was left was being swept up by street cleaning crews.
As workers began removing the bleachers and monstrous platforms, Washington landmarks -- the Treasury Building, Commerce Building and even the White House, hidden by the props of the inaugural celebrations -- came into full view.
Federal workers carrying briefcases were once again visible quick-stepping down Pennsylvania Avenue, the city's broad downtown boulevard that doubles as the Avenue of Presidents, and blue-collar men and women, carrying lunch bags, collected at downtown bus stops.
At the National Geographic Building at M and 17th streets NW, a bright yellow ribbon, once the symbol of the hostages' captivity and now the symbol of their freedom, was wrapped around the building's huge marble columns -- a reminder of the monumental events that had occurred a day earlier. c
At the Mayflower Hotel, two women wearing red pants, blue tams and holding colorful balloons paced the lobby selling red, white and blue inaugural T-shirts that read, "I was in Washington for the inaugural the day the hostages were released." A man in a three-piece business suit chuckled and said, "Get those Republicans to spend one more time."
Several blocks away, catering trucks double-parked on downtown streets as men loaded up equipment, but little food.
"We had the normal 10 percent of food left over -- filets, whole hams, steamship rounds of beef, raw vegetables," said Jeff Ellis of Ridgewell Caterers. "But most of that was turned over to the inaugural party hosts, who gave the food away to the hired help, the military escorts or to people going back to hotels for other parties."
At National and Dulles airports, yesterday, inaugural guests endured departure delays of up to one hour, because of the heavy volume of arrivals and departures -- including an unusually large number of private planes -- and low visibility.
"We started running almost from early morning when the airport opened," said David Hess, FAA spokesman. "On Jan. 19, we had 399 private and corporate small aircraft parked here and 271 on Jan. 20th. A lot of these owners or clients decided to leave today, and that, plus the heavy booking that the airlines had contributed to the heavy day.
While the confusion continued at the airports, hotels and in other parts of the city, David Catron and his coworker, Owen Forster, unscrewed bolts and removed planks from bleachers along the parade route.
"It's nice to get involved in something like this, to be able to watch TV and see the crowd sitting on the bleachers that I helped put up," Catron said. "That's something I can tell my children."
"But what it really boils down to, is making money," he said. "When we get through here, these bleachers are going to Hershey, Pa., for the Avon Tennis Classic."