Inaugural Parade Parties Abound

By De Marco, Donna | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 13, 2001 | Go to article overview

Inaugural Parade Parties Abound


De Marco, Donna, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Banks, law firms and political groups are among the slew of party hosts dishing out tens of thousands of dollars to wine and dine parade watchers at their invitation-only inaugural parties along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The groups are either turning their prime office space that lines Pennsylvania Avenue into party hot spots or renting out space along the nearly two-mile parade route to throw receptions for staff, clients, lobbyists and other politicos.

"It's Washington's equivalent of tailgating," said Mame Reiley, vice president and general manager of PGI/Washington Inc., an event planning company in the District.

But there's more to the hobnobbing parties than just an inaugural celebration. It has become a key opportunity for groups to impress clients and network with associates.

"It's another avenue to touch base with our clients," said Tom Walshire, vice president and events manager at Bank of America, which is hosting a 650-person party at its banking center at 730 15th Ave. in Northwest.

The 100 or so party hosts are spending on average between $40,000 and $150,000, depending on the number of guests attending, Ms. Reiley said..

Many revelers attending the parties have been invited to multiple gatherings and are likely to "party hop" along Pennsylvania Avenue - a coveted street with prime office real estate every day of the week, not just during the Inauguration.

The parade-watching parties usually begin in the late morning and last well into the afternoon, following the day's events from the swearing-in ceremony at 11:30 a.m. at the Capitol to the parade, which beings at 2 p.m.

Television monitors are usually set up throughout the rooms so partygoers can catch a glimpse of all the inaugural hoopla happening just blocks away.

But among the biggest party draws are the oversized picture windows, rooftops, terraces and balconies overlooking the marching bands, floats and the newly elected president and vice president as they make their way to the White House.

Until this year, Covington & Burling, a law firm at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, has never had an official party on Inauguration Day despite its prime location overlooking the parade.

"We realized there was really a lot of demand we hadn't tapped into before," said John Neidecker, chief marketing officer at Covington & Burling. "We really wanted to entertain our clients."

The firm, which expects about 400 guests for its champagne brunch, will open to visitors its terrace, a large conference room and several partners' offices that have a view of the parade. …

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