- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Flowing French champagne, caviar that never stopped and a balalaika orchestra playing soulful tunes helped make Mary and Mandy Ourisman's Russian-themed holiday bash the place to see and be seen on Saturday night.

Several revelers said they changed dates of plane flights to attend and there were no regrets. The event was festive enough to bring sparkle back to the eye of even the most world-weary guest.

The setting turned out to be the main attraction, especially a tented double garden that spectacularly succeeded in producing a romantic Czarist-era fantasy with plenty of soft red light, shimmering ice sculptures, Oriental rugs, hundreds of yards of silk wall hangings and masses of flowers, all red too, in towering arrangements.

Everywhere you looked the crowd was equally impressive as well, an interesting assemblage of political, diplomatic and social Washington that included many well-known media and business personalities.

"A jump-start on the Inauguration," one seasoned observer said of the fete, sounding hopeful that the bipartisan mix and spirit of the crowd would carry on into next month's festivities."

Among the 350 guests, there were a great many to note. Here's a few who were there: Sens. Chuck Robb, John Warner and Don Nickles; Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson; Katharine Graham; journalists Bob Schieffer, Tony Blankley, Chris Wallace, Claire Shipman and Jay Carney; Bill and Buffy Cafritz; Vernon and Ann Jordan; Bill Bennett; Lucky Roosevelt; Julie Finley; and the British, French, Greek and Italian ambassadors.

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