News & Politics

A Night Out: Pennsylvania Inaugural Gala

Marjorie Rendell, Ed Rendell, and Liz Roberts, head of the Pennsylvania Society of Washington.

What: Pennsylvania Inaugural Gala, hosted by the Pennsylvania Society of Washington, DC.

Where: Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.

When: Tuesday, January 20.

Ticket price: $150.

Who: Seventeen hundred Pennsylvanians—plus Obama supporters from Atlanta, London, Washington, and other places—came out to toast the new President and the Keystone State’s role in the historic election. Notable guests included longtime Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and wife Marjorie, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and actress Sharon Stone. Fox 5 weatherman Tony Perkins was master of ceremonies.

See more photos of inaugural balls.

Scene: Bigwigs mingled in a VIP room away from the masses. Inside the ballroom, partygoers danced to music by Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band, which didn’t include the former Beatle but did feature Billy Joel band member Mark Rivera. Couples lined up to have their official picture taken in front of a backdrop with the inaugural seal. Said one of the photographers: “It’ll make you feel like you’re at prom again!”

Food and drink: Two buffets served flank steak, pad Thai, baked salmon, and an assortment of grilled vegetables. Although lines for the buffet snaked around the ballroom, it was easy to snag a drink at one of the three bars, which offered wine, beer, and flutes of Korbel Champagne.

Strangest moment: Pennsylvania native and Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone took the stage to welcome the crowd. Dressed in a floor-length black dress with a plunging V-neck, the fiftysomething actress gave an impassioned—and rambling—speech that touched on, among other things, her working-class upbringing, the history of the Liberty Bell, the resiliency of Pennsylvanians, and Steelers football. After she led the crowd in a chant of “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!,” some guests wondered if the actress was planning a run for office.

Best line: Tony Perkins to the crowd: “We’ll see if the governor can wrangle a special guest. But if he can’t, by the end of the night half of you will think I’m Barack Obama anyway.”

Boldface names: 4 out of 5.
Swankiness: 3 out of 5.
Food and drink: 3 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 3 out of 5.

Total score: 13 out of 20.