Washington, let's admit, sometimes is so doggone self-important -- another word is stuffy -- that we locals have trouble opening up and having fun. The only two really effervescent fun events Metro Scene can recall, in fact, were the Redskins' Super Bowl victory and the basketball Bullets' championship, both a few years back.

Well, by gosh, the thousand or so who gathered at 14th and F streets NW at noon yesterday to celebrate a commercial event -- the opening of a new wing of The Shops (some 40 new enterprises) in the National Press Building -- had some real fun. We came out of it with heads covered with confetti.

The speechifying was brief. Red, white and blue streamers were unfurled down the side of the renovated building. Barrels of confetti were poured off the roof, landing in cascades on those of us below. Workmen eating their sandwiches on the ledges of the Willard Hotel, being reconstructed across the street, waved their greetings.

And those marvelous bands wearing the purple, white and gold uniforms of Cardozo High School and the red, white and black garments of Dunbar High School strutted, danced, pranced, drummed, trumpeted and tromboned through several routines -- a face-off between rivals, one might say, except that band members generously applauded each other's performances.

It was, hey, fun!

Throughout it, a Pepco maintenance man in a cherry picker did routine work on traffic signals at the intersection.

Mayor Marion Barry gave the main speech. As usual, he was late for the event (by less time, however, than he often is). Nervously awaiting Barry's arrival, Mathias J. DeVito, chairman and president of the Rouse Co., developer and operator of The Shops, turned to a companion on the platform and observed that "he's already cost us $2,000 in sales" to the waiting crowd.

When DeVito eventually introduced the mayor, he twice called him "Marion T. Barry." Barry smiled, graciously not noting that his middle initial is "S."