At 37 degrees, nights are so cold in Washington they're turning his daughters' noses a bright cherry-red.
"But it's dry ," jokes Orange County Democratic Chairman Howard Adler. "Saturday night was the first dry night I've experienced in days."
Along with his wife, Louise, and his two daughters--Leah, 16, and Rachel, 12--Adler has come to the capital to attend the inauguration of Bill Clinton.
Sure, he's attended one before. And he laughs when he talks about the image he took away from the festivities that saluted Lyndon Johnson. "I've never seen so many people in tuxedos and boots," he says.
But this one is different. "This time my whole family is accompanying me. And this time, it's my generation," says Adler, 49. "It's a particularly poignant moment for all of us."
So he's letting the confetti fly. "I'm going to all of the events," he says. There's Monday's $1,500-per-person dinner at Capital Centre ("Black-tie and short cocktail dress," states the invitation), Tuesday's Presidential Gala and Wednesday's inaugural ball at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
And there's Tuesday's afternoon reception at the National Democratic Club being staged by the Orange County Democratic Foundation. "A reception and a ticket bazaar," Adler notes. "People who need tickets mingling with people who may have extra tickets."
Not to mention the inauguration itself. When television cameras pan the crowd during Clinton's swearing-in, look for Adler in the seated section, thank you very much. And during the inaugural parade, watch for him in the President's Row grandstand, across the street from the White House.
But don't look for Louise Adler bracing herself against the cold in a fur. "My wife and daughters will all be in cloth coats," Adler says. "They wouldn't consider owning a fur." Not so Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder. Watch for her dripping in ranch mink to her ankles. "I've been to three of these," says Wieder, who will attend the festivities with her husband, Irv, "and I know they can be mighty cold."
As a Republican for Clinton, Wieder is still pinching herself over the fact that she's in town for a Democratic inauguration. Did she ever dream she would attend one? " Are you kidding ?" she asks.
Wieder has snubbed the $1,500-per-person dinner at Capital Centre. "I'm on the A-list, I'm told, so it was my privilege to buy a ticket to that, but I don't want to spend that kind of money. I can't remember Republicans ever asking that much for a ticket. As it is, we're spending $1,000 for the concert that features Barbra Streisand the following night."
Wieder is attending the inauguration more out of curiosity than anything else, she says. "What's different about this one is all of the public events. We've rented a car to get to them because we know how hard it is to get around. We have a college student driving us to our gala events on Tuesday and Wednesday nights."
Lincoln Club President Gus Owen thought long and hard before deciding to attend the inauguration on the arm of his wife, developer Kathryn Thompson (another Republican for Clinton). "I wasn't all that positive I was going," says Owen. "I debated many a week, bounced it back and forth.
"Then I talked to people like (Reps.) Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Ron Packard (R-Oceanside) and they said to go because I'd have input. I won't know any of the social set, but, because she helped Clinton, Kathryn will have entree and we'll have the chance to express ourselves about the economy, how difficult it is for developers right now."
With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Owen took along the inauguration tip-sheet for "Arkansas Residents" that's been making the rounds in Orange County. Subject: "Recommended Behavior." Among the suggestions: "Before leaving for Washington, clean mud from windshields and remove hog and chicken feed from pickup bed." And: "Any cardboard box can be made to look like a suitcase if brown shoe polish is smoothly applied."
"For me, this isn't going to be as exciting as a Republican inauguration would have been," Owen says. "But that's all part of the democratic process."
For former California Democratic Chairman Dick O'Neill, an inauguration is the ultimate power party.
This is his fourth. And he's going to all of the significant events, including the Western (inaugural) Ball at the Kennedy Center.
"When Kennedy was inaugurated, I decided to go at the last minute--didn't have invitations to any parties. I ended up arriving on a 'dry' Sunday and the town was all out of liquor. It was funny. That's what I remember most about that one. That, and the fact that Kennedy looked like he was having such a wonderful time."
When he attended Johnson's inauguration, he went with a larger, more organized group, O'Neill says. "We all wore 10-gallon hats. Everybody did. It was quite lively."
Jimmy Carter's inauguration was casual, he says. "I've never seen so many people in Levi's and mink.