Washington Readies for Flurry of Inaugural Festivities

Times Staff Writer

While the official Presidential Inaugural Committee earnestly attempts to sway attention to its emphasis on youth activities and scaled-down glitter in the upcoming festivities, prominent Californians are carrying on with the pressing of their tuxedos and gowns, just like four years ago.

Some of the most exclusive private parties will whirl around Californians, starting Thursday at the Italian Embassy. Ambassador Rinaldo Petrignani and his wife, Anne, will host a black-tie dinner-dance for about 70 people, mostly the President's friends from California, spiced with a sprinkle of wealthy barons.

"The ambassador and his wife are throwing the party because they're very good friends of these friends of the President," said the embassy's social secretary, Juliano Lucciola, ticking off a guest list that includes Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Betsy Bloomingdale, Atty. Gen. William French Smith, White House Atty. Gen.-designate Edwin Meese, Baron Enrico DiPortanova from the Republic of San Marino ("one of the richest men in the world," said Lucciola), and Baron Vittorio DeNora of New York ("another one of the richest men in the world," said Lucciola. "These are mainly very, very wealthy people.")

No Big Macs And they will dine on rich food: pigeon and a smoked salmon pasta dish highlight the menu.

Two nights later, California industrialist Armand Hammer will be honored by 250 people at a black-tie reception in the Garden Court at the National Gallery of Art, celebrating Hammer's first exhibition of paintings at the Gallery. More than 15 American works from his collection will go on display Sunday as the focal point of the gallery's inaugural tribute. "American Paintings From the Armand Hammer Collection: An Inaugural Celebration" includes works by Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent, William Harnett, Charles Russell, Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, Maurice Prendergast, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Frederic Remington and Andrew Wyeth. Hammer has had some of the drawings that he owns shown at the gallery, but never any paintings.

To recognize the occasion, ambassadors from China, Pakistan and Egypt will join Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Chief Justice Warren Burger, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Z. Wick, Health and Human Resources Secretary Margaret Heckler and other notables in viewing and toasting the collection.

Abundance of Stars Afterward, many of them will climb into limousines, rented for the four-day festivities at $2,400, and rush to the Presidential Inaugural Gala, which will include performances by the Beach Boys, Wayne Newton, Sinatra, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Randall and Rich Little. Portions of the celebration will be broadcast by ABC-TV.

Another very exclusive private black-tie party is being given by Maureen Reagan and her husband, Dennis Revell. White House spokeswoman Sheila Tate has said that all the Reagan "kids" will be staying at the White House, and that a crib and a highchair have been borrowed for the grandchild who was the subject of the recent furor, Michael Reagan's 20-month-old daughter, Ashley. After publicly complaining that his father never sees his new granddaughter, Michael Reagan will be bringing her for her first stay in the White House.

Even Nancy Reagan's West Coast hair stylist, Julius Bengtsson, will be here, camped out in Robin Wier's trendy Washington salon, which is bringing in not only hairdressers and makeup people from other cities to accommodate the rush but also an "omelet man" to refuel the 140 customers a day Weir hopes to service.

For those with thinner wallets, there will be youth-oriented events, many of them free.

A Youth Inaugural Conference for 450 high school students will kick off next Friday with a lecture by Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute on the current American political climate and significance of the recent election, and a briefing by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee on the history of the Inauguration.

Special youth activities continue the morning of Jan. 19 with a breakfast at the National Press Club with a panel of journalists, as well as the larger Youth Leadership Forum, where 2,200 invited guests will have "the opportunity to interface with Cabinet officers and members of Congress," said Jim Lake, press director of the committee. That night there will be a "Concert for Young Americans" at the D.C. Armory, starring rock musicians Kool and the Gang, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Lee.

The next day starting at 5:30 p.m. there will be a "National Youth Pageant" at the Jefferson Memorial featuring 3,500 young singers and band members from every state. Fireworks follow and it is free to the public, but it competes with the televising of the Super Bowl, and Washington daytime temperatures took a foreboding dip into the 20s this week.

The next night, while others scurry to nine black-tie balls, a less formal ball will be held for young people at the D.C. Armory.

Other inaugural events include the Jan. 21 parade with everything from marching bands to an Alaskan dog sled, the very private, official swearing-in Jan. 20 and the ceremonial swearing-in on the west front of the Capitol Jan. 21 in front of 140,000 invited guests, all of it surrounded by countless breakfasts, brunches and private parties.

Private swearing-ins have been the rule when Jan. 20 falls on a Sunday, due to Sabbath considerations, but no one is missing the wisdom of declining to compete with the Super Bowl.

"The President," said Bob Hope, "will stand up to the Russians but he didn't want to tangle with the National Football League."

Hotels are booked solid, Ridgewell's caterers will run 50 trucks 24 hours a day and the thousands of out-of-town visitors are expected to pump about $35 million into the city's cash registers.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World