We couldn’t miss the doings around the historic election of Barack Obama and our own Joe Biden. So before the polls closed, we headed out to the Democratic and Republican election night rallies: Ds at the downtown DoubleTree, Rs at the Christiana Hilton. Intent on maintaining impartiality, the following is our most Switzerlandish observations of the events—even if neutral is not our best color palette.
The Christiana Hilton was eerily quiet—dare we say deserted?—when we arrived later in the evening, so we had no trouble parking as close as the voting in Ohio. The event room had just one (very crowded) bar and election results were projected onto three of the four walls. To those assembled, we posed a question: What would you say to someone at the other party’s party right now? New State Representative Mike Ramone surprised us with, “I wouldn’t have much to say. Rather I’d listen and learn.” Learn what, we asked? “What the Democrats did right to be successful and what makes them believe what they believe.”
“We are not rotten people,” said Representative-elect Ramone. “We will not give up in bringing Delaware back to the days of Pete du Pont.”
Newly re-elected congressman Mike Castle, with his always smartly dressed wife Jane (in a tailored red jacket and full black slacks), likened the state of the Republican Party to his new Wright and Simon suit. With a few alterations and a good dry cleaning, both would come back “fresher and with a better fit.” The congressman stressed the importance of finding new, qualified candidates to restore a right-of-center government. He and the deejay wrapped up on a positive note, Castle by saying, “The people want change, maybe they’ll change back,” the deejay by playing “Only the Beginning” by Chicago.
So back to the beginning of the evening: At 7 p.m. attendance at the Democratic rally at the DoubleTree in downtown Wilmington was still light, but the media was already heavy. (We counted eight TV cameras.) Hard-working campaign volunteers, most sporting Obama-Biden or Jack Markell T-shirts, hats and stickers, claimed the early seats and snacks.
The beautifully braided Rebecca Hadahasa and friends had been canvassing all day in Philly. Color-coordinated friends Joey Contampasis and Martha MacKenzie reported people were patient and polite while voting at 12th and Market in Wilmington.
We spotted two pony-tailed young sisters (same ages as Mahlia and Sasha Obama) toting their crayon-colored national electoral maps. Their proud parents, neighbors to new Governor Jack and wife Carla Markell, told us the girls had “voted” in every major election since they could stay in the lines.
Wilmington City Council President Ted Blunt shared excitement over what he considered the culmination of 300 years and discussed the Delaware Way of politics, which is so important in a state where running into an adversary at Kozy Korner is always a likelihood. The ever-politic Ted summed it up this way: “Collaboration is essential.” Former state party chair Gary Hindes added that the Delaware Way “was ready to go national.”
At 8:01 p.m. it was announced that Obama-Biden had won Pennsylvania, which proved to be a true keystone state. The crowd was ecstatic, including Richard “Mouse” Smith, who told that he and Joe Biden used to pal around at Price’s Run pool as teenagers, and that he sometimes acted as Joe’s personal bodyguard. On the Delaware Way, Mr. Smith had this to say: “We’ll show the country how it’s done.” Then he surprised us with a big bro hug. Hearts and eyes filled.
“Let me hear you say Joe Bama,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper said from the podium. “The change we want and need is almost here.” No sooner had he spoken the words as the critical Florida numbers flashed onto a multiplex-sized TV screen. The crowd exploded.
Before leaving for the Republican rally, we spoke with a dapper figure we’d noticed all night weaving through the packed ballroom like a composed father in a maternity waiting room. Robert “Bobo” Owens (see First State Fashion Plate), a resident of Wilmington for more than 50 years, told us it had been a long wait for the nation’s first black president, and that he was pleased with the system. How did he keep the faith so long? “My parents told me it would happen.” Mom and Dad were right. I’m still blubbering over it all.
Page 2: A Vote for Art is a Vote for Fun
When the Vote Art fundraiser for DCCA happened a week before Halloween, the presidential campaigns were still in full swing, so it wasn’t surprising to be hailed by a super-sexy Sarah Palin look-alike in the red-carpeted greeting tent.
Gabby and his date, DT blogger and Glam Girl JoJami Tyler, were handed teeny pomegranatinis as a welcome bracer against the chill. We weren’t exactly sure what to do with the mini empties while shaking hands with event co-chairs Ellen Bartholomaus, who was decked in a gray ostrich boa, glittery bracelets to her elbow and a killer rhinestone skull clutch, and her date, Carson Zullinger, who wore a canvas smock screened with images from artists’ work he has photographed. They personified the spirit of the night perfectly: fun, stylish, humorous, and, of course, full of love for art, lots of art.
Crawling up the walls, hanging from the ceiling and worn as costumes, art was celebrated everywhere. DCCA director Maxine Graiber was a large plum Crayola crayon, which was only appropriate, since the evening’s proceeds were to be donated to children’s programs. Bill Montgomery and Lynn Doto attended as a gender-reversed Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
There was a partier dressed as René Magritte’s “Man in Bowler,” a Van Gogh (on a bike), and at least two Warholian creations. Fashion design students from the University of Delaware modeled their own avant-garde ballerina, black widow spider, dead bride and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” designs. Super.
The artful crew at Catering by Design of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, led by director Gary La Jeunesse, did a remarkable job of quenching thirst, sating appetites and dazzling the eye. Abundant bars made finding a second pommatini quick and easy. Not as easy: choosing from the burger bar (chicken, beef or crab), the soft taco stand (salmon or short rib) or the deli (reubens, pastrami and knish)—all delicious.
Gary chose turquoise as his singular decorating statement. Tables, chairs, walls, candles, and exquisitely modern blue chrysanthemum arrangements and buds were fresh choices. We loved the side room, which was transformed into a chic chill lounge. Inviting and comfortable, it gave the best view of the room and dance floor, where classic rockers Montana Wildaxe did their thing, which never fails to please the crowd.
Hot pinks, oranges and fuschias were sprayed, dipped and extended onto the hair of willing guests at the Salon Pasca table, where Governor Palin was seen touching up her lipstick. All glamified, guests stepped in front of the video camera for seven seconds at the Festive Fotobooth, where their images were made into a 60-page stop-action flip book. Sadie Somerville and Rodney Jester chose to smooch on camera. So did Ginger and Barry Schlecker.
Everybody flipped for DCCA head curator Carina Evangelista’s cobalt blue body image printed on a strapless “dress” of white canvas by Yves Kline. (Yes, the Yves Kline.) Cobalt or crimson, Democrat or Republican, Ms. Evangelista and the DCCA got my vote, a straight ticket. Ciao for now.
Page 3: First State Fashion Plate | The Belles and Beaus of the Balls
The Belles and Beaus of the Balls