Enthralled by Nelson Mandela's impassioned public appearances in New York City, some members of the D.C. Council are trying to find a way to get people here more attention from the South African leader, whose Washington visit will be tilted more toward official business than celebration.

"If he can go to New York and they can have a ticker-tape parade and he can see Harlem, then he ought to be accessible to the residents of this city," said D.C. Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6), who is spearheading the effort to plan a celebration at a spot along Mandela's motorcade route.

The so-called "Mandela Freedom Celebration Salute," which would take place at noon Tuesday at Freedom Plaza across from the District Building, is intended to bring the public to Mandela because his three-day Washington schedule only allows for only one public rally, Winter said.

Winter's concerns reflect what Mandela tour organizers say is an inevitable tension between residents' desires to gaze at a hero of a long-fought liberation struggle and Mandela's need to seize this opportunity to promote the anti-apartheid cause before the most powerful government in the world.

"What people do not realize is that the Washington leg of Mr. Mandela's tour is different than his visits to other cities," said Cecelie Counts Blakey, of the National Mandela Welcoming Committee. "Mr. Mandela has to work while he is in Washington.

"The irony is that the community's work in the {anti-apartheid} movement has been able to redirect policy to some extent that Mr. Mandela is now able to meet with the heads of state," Blakey said. "The problem is that means that he has less time to spend with the people of D.C."

Mandela is expected to arrive Sunday at National Airport, where he will be met by dignitaries, including Effi Barry, Jesse L. Jackson, TransAfrica Director Randall Robinson and the 13-member D.C. Council.

Mayor Marion Barry is not expected to attend the private welcoming ceremony or any other events, said Christine Dolan, a member of the national Mandela welcoming committee.

The 19,000 tickets to Mandela's only public rally in Washington were sold out by Thursday, prompting a flurry of questions about why organizers chose to hold the event at the Washington Convention Center rather than the more spacious Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"I can't understand why they wouldn't bring a man who is so immensely popular to the biggest place they could find in this area," said Barbra Thomas, of Capitol Heights, who said she spent much of the week on the phone trying to drum up a ticket to the rally.

"People watched the news footage from the church service in New York," Thomas said, and they saw Mandela dancing and with his fist in the air as thousands of spectators bounced side to side in the ceremonial South African Toi Toi dance.

"They saw all that excitement and they want some for themselves," Thomas said.

Organizers say they opted for the convention center over the stadium because of concerns about cost and bad weather. But they said the most important factor in their decision was finding a suitable place for Mandela to make what Blakey described as a "somber, serious and yet uplifting policy address."

"In Washington we are trying to treat Mr. Mandela as a head of state, not just a cultural hero," said Karen Spellman, who is organizing the Tuesday rally. "A leader like Gorbachev doesn't speak at a football stadium so why should Nelson Mandela go to the football stadium?"

Council members and local activists, while maintaining that they understand Mandela's priorities, said nonetheless that they regretted that residents who have been so supportive of his struggle will barely get a glimpse of the man.

"As much as I want to see this man, I try and remind myself that he has to forward his people's agenda while he's here," Thomas said. "We all want to see him but we can't be selfish or make selfish demands."

MANDELA SCHEDULE* Sunday

Time undetermined -- Mandela arrives at National Airport and departs for the Madison Hotel.

4 p.m. -- Winnie Mandela attends tribute to South African women at Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M St. NW.

5 p.m. -- Mandela meets with members of the African National Congress and South African exiles, Madison Hotel.

6:30 p.m. -- Mandela meets with members of the African diplomatic corps, Madison Hotel.

Monday

9:30 a.m. -- Meeting with The Washington Post editorial board.

11 a.m. -- Meeting with President Bush, White House.

4 p.m. -- Meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III, State Department, 2201 C St. NW.

5:30 p.m. -- Meetings with the AFL-CIO, 815 16th St. NW.

8 p.m. -- Dinner hosted by Sens. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and Terry Sanford (D-N.C.), Russell Senate Office Building.

Tuesday

8 a.m. -- Breakfast with the Congressional Black Caucus, Cannon House Office Building.

11 a.m. -- Mandela addresses joint session of Congress, U.S. Capitol.

3:30 p.m. -- Meetings with the Senate and House leadership and with Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees, U.S. Capitol.

6:15 p.m. -- Dinner with members of the African National Congress, Rayburn House Office Building.

7 p.m. -- African National Congress Rally, Washington Convention Center. Wednesday

6 a.m. -- Mandela departs Washington en route to Atlanta. *All times and events subject to change.