Republicans Cap Inaugural Festivities With Night of Partying|
Elizabeth A. Weiss
Capital News Service
Friday, Jan. 21, 2005
WASHINGTON - The buffet was lackluster, the line for drink tickets
seemed endless at times and President Bush danced for all of 55
seconds, but Gene Mobley still had a fine time celebrating the
inaugural Thursday night at the Independence Ball.
"I thought it was an excellent evening. I found myself in tears
when the president was speaking," said the 22-year-old dock master of
Kentmorr Harbour Marina in Stevensville.
But Mobley did not have to shell out $150 for tickets -- he was a
guest of Art Eisenstein, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Sea
Cadet Corps, who made headlines in March by helping to rescue several
people in a fatal water taxi accident in Baltimore. And Eisenstein got
his tickets from a friend.
For those who had not saved a life or two recently, the $150
tickets bought access to the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, master of
ceremonies Tom Driessen (a self-proclaimed exiled Republican funnyman
from Hollywood) and a buffet that featured plain bread, turkey roll,
baked ziti, cheese cubes and potato chips.
The Independence Ball was one of nine inaugural balls Thursday, and
the one designated for Republicans from Maryland -- along with
Republicans from Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii,
Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state.
The Washington Convention Center room had a maximum occupancy of
7,500 people, and it felt full by 8 p.m., an hour after the doors
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, showed up a short
time later, causing the partiers to show their Republican spirit with
roars for the couple -- and two weak attempts at starting the chant,
"Four More Years!" that went unnoticed by most.
After Cheney reminded the audience that the American military is
defending freedom, he and his wife displayed some impressive dance
moves, which were accentuated thanks to the three rhythmless couples
that joined them on stage.
Bush and his wife, Laura, appeared just before 9 p.m. to more
cheers. After he said a few words about his patient wife and how he
will work to spread freedom around the world, the couple danced for a
whopping 55 seconds to "God Bless the U.S.A.," which was announced as
one of the president's favorite songs.
The Bushes left for another ball after their brief dance, leaving
Mobley teary-eyed and Eisenstein grateful.
"I feel blessed that I had the ability to go and witness history
like that," Eisenstein said.
He attended one of the balls at Bush's first inauguration in 2001,
and thought it would be nice this time to bring some friends who had
never been to this special event. He was touched to see Mobley's
emotional reaction to Bush's presence.
Earlier in the evening, as Mobley handed out glasses of white wine
and champagne to empty-handed friends, Eisenstein balked when asked
how he got his tickets, saying only that, "I know some people in state
He was also wary of retelling his heroic story.
"I was lucky enough to get here," he said.
Not every Marylander at the ball was there to show his love for
Bush -- Alder Nelson was just happy to have some work for the evening.
The 54-year-old unemployed computer technician from Baltimore was part
of the beverage serving team from Express Personnel Services. The
drinks, cups and ice were provided by the convention center, but
servers were brought in.
Staff Sgt. Troy McKay was also working the party Thursday, but he
could not contain his enthusiasm for Bush. McKay, 30, is a trumpet
player in the Army band known as "Pershing's Own," which also played
at the Independence Ball.
"I am a big Bush fan and I pray for him every night, and I'm
excited to be serving my country and my president in this way
tonight," McKay said.
2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
Top of Page | Home Page