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Grand Old Party Poopers Ignore the Inaugural Levity

January 21, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Some 200 youthful singers who traveled from across the country to serenade President Clinton got within a dozen blocks ... but no closer.

Thirty feet from its starting point in the inaugural parade, their float broke down.

″There are a lot of disappointed people,″ said Dick Siler of Scarborough, Maine, the father of one of the youngsters aged 7 to 15 aboard the Choir Float. It had been scheduled to stop before Clinton’s reviewing stand but never came within a mile of it.

″It was mind-boggling,″ Siler said, noting that his group, the Boy Singers of Maine, had raised $15,000 to attend the inaugural.

Still, the choirs may get to do their thing for Clinton after all. Today’s Washington Post reported that they had been invited to perform at the White House.

Others scheduled to be on the float were the Newark Boys Choir from Newark, N.J.; Sounds of Silence from Stark County, Ohio; the Mississippi Mass Choir; the Georgetown Chimes and Georgetown Grace Notes from Washington, Wellesley Widows from Wellesley, Mass., the Vassar Singers from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and the Guam Society of America.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans? They were the Grand Old Party Poopers of Bill Clinton’s inauguration day.

″I’m delighted I don’t have to go to the inaugural ball,″ said Rep. William Clinger, R-Pa. ″Those are like a sentence to purgatory.″

His Pennsylvania colleague, Rep. Bud Shuster, decided to throw his own special ball in a downtown hotel. Spokeswoman Ann Eppard said it would be less raucous than the parties being visited by President Clinton.

Meanwhile, Republican Bill Bennett, the former education secretary and national drug policy coordinator, said that by ″happy coincidence″ he was invited to address a business group in Atlanta on Clinton’s big day.

As for the man of the hour? ″I’m sort tired of him already,″ said Bennett. ″There’s too much of him. I find him cloying. When I see him full face on the tube I want to go back a few feet.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A colorful touch of Mardi Gras-style masking marked Bill Clinton’s parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. Nikki Skalski, 24, and Kevin Collis, 25, posed for pictures along the route, wearing giant heads that were caricature likenesses of the new president and first lady.

″It’s already gone to your head,″ shouted spectators as the two mummers cavorted at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, a block from the White House.

The enormous caricature of Hillary Rodham Clinton was even decked out in a pink headband and some spectators shouted, ″Lose the headband, Hillary.″

The antics were the brainchild of a Washington public relations company.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - In keeping with the controversy over gays in the military, the ″Star Spangled Banner″ was sung at the Gay and Lesbian Inaugural Ball by Joseph Steffan, who after acknowledging that he is gay was forced to resign from the Naval Academy two months before graduation in 1987.

Some 2,000 people crowded into the ball at the National Press Building. Sponsors sought to drive home the theme of safe sex by handing out packets of favors that included condoms and pamphlets with advice on how to avoid AIDS.

″If Ronald Reagan were alive to see this tonight, it would definitely knock the dots off his dice,″ said lesbian comedienne Kate Clinton.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Never mind that the nation’s capital was awash in parties and parades on Bill Clinton’s Inauguration Day.

Somehow, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., thought it would be the perfect time for a three-state meeting on the future of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

An all-star cast of congressmen from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware studded the invitation list as well as three governors and six senators.

But no senator showed up and two of the governors were no-shows as well. Only three congressmen straggled in. And they weren’t celebrating. They were Republicans, too.

Specter conceded grudgingly that maybe the timing could have been better.

″This is a very busy day,″ he said. ″I knew it would be a long shot.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Before he boarded an Air Force jumbo jet and flew into his Texas retirement, George Bush stopped for a final picture with the maintenance crew that kept his plane in the air for 612,394 miles, every state and 35 foreign countries.

One difference: The band did not play ″Hail to the Chief,″ the anthem traditionally reserved for the incumbent president.

But hours later, another band, at the Mid-Atlantic Ball, did play ″Hail to the Chief″ as Vice President Al Gore entered the room. Nobody complained.

On hand to see Bush off was Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

″I thought there ought to be somebody from Texas to tell him goodbye,″ said Johnson.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Dennis Hammond was grumbling on Inauguration Day. Security men forced him to move from his usual spot outside the Executive Office Building next door to the White House.

And take his tuba with him.

The 52-year-old Hammond played his tuba at 17th and H Streets during the parade. He said the move was disappointing. He also had a bit of wisdom for the incoming administration.

″Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread,″ he said. ″We all agree there are problems. But some think they’ll be solved in a minute.″

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