- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2007

Thousands of D.C. residents, city officials and dignitaries last night filled the Washington Convention Center for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s inaugural ball, a super-sized event that ushered in the city’s youngest mayor.

Mr. Fenty’s wife, Michelle, organized the event and said she wanted it to “capture the diversity of the city as seen through Adrian’s eyes.”

“I wanted people to meet who wouldn’t otherwise mingle,” said Mrs. Fenty, dressed in a strapless, champagne-gold-colored gown by New York designer B. Michael. “We wanted people to say afterwards that they learned something about the city.”

Mrs. Fenty had “ward rooms” created for the venue that reflected the culture of each of the city’s eight wards.

The Ward 7 exhibit, for example, featured local artists displaying their paintings. The Ward 8 area included pictures of Marion Barry, a former D.C. mayor, and other council members who have represented that jurisdiction.

The ball began at 7 p.m. with outside temperatures still in the low 60s and Metropolitan Police Department officers lining the streets around the venue on Mount Vernon Place Northwest.

About 15,000 free tickets were issued in the weeks before the event.

Most of the guests were dressed in black tie or gowns and were served from 50 bars and 60 buffet tables filled with desserts and such delectables as chicken, pasta and shrimp donated by local restaurants. Free sodas and other drinks were available, but guests had to pay for alcoholic beverages.

Tables adorned with flower arrangements filled up soon after the doors opened as bands played jazz and guests engaged in cocktail chatter only loud enough to hear over the music.

Mr. Fenty, clad in a black tuxedo, said shortly before 8 p.m. that he already was pleased with the turnout.

“The citizens of the District of Columbia have shown a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of that is due to my predecessor [former Mayor Anthony A. Williams] having worked so hard for eight years,” said Mr. Fenty, inside the gleaming new convention center in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, one of the cornerstones of Mr. Williams’ economic revitalization of the city.

The ball was originally scheduled for Jan. 2, but was postponed after President Bush declared the date a national day of mourning for former President Gerald R. Ford.

Mr. Fenty’s public swearing-in ceremony was delayed until Jan. 3. At 36, he became the District’s fifth and youngest elected mayor.

Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, has wasted little time making changes since the swearing-in ceremony.

On Thursday, he presented his plan to assume authority over the District’s public school system, to the dismay of Board of Education President Robert C. Bobb, who vowed to resign if the plan goes into effect.

Critics of the takeover plan protested outside the convention center.

On Friday, Mr. Fenty and acting Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced their strategy to customize police presence on city streets.

He stressed the importance of community policing and the need to continue building the city’s economy. He also has promised to fight for statehood for the District.

Mr. Fenty raised more than $611,000 for the ball, according to a donor list released earlier in the week.

The donations were given directly to a nonprofit corporation established by the Fenty transition team. The leftover money will be put in a constituent-services fund, officials said.

The ball was significantly larger than those of Mr. Williams, which were attended by a few thousand people.

Mr. Williams’ first inauguration, at the Reagan Building in 1999, had a $35 admission fee and was budgeted at about $400,000, according to previous reports. Mr. Williams’ second inauguration, held at the Old Post Office Pavilion, which cost about $216,000, was free to the public.

Mr. Fenty’s donor list shows funds received from such prominent businesses as accounting firm Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates, which gave $25,000.

Jeffrey E. Thompson, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, won influential appointments to serve on the boards of the University of the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority under Mr. Williams, also a Democrat.

Mr. Thompson’s firm and his health plan, Chartered Health, also has won tens of millions of dollars in D.C. contracts since 2000.

Mr. Thompson supported Mr. Fenty’s rival in the mayoral race, former council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.

Other donors to Mr. Fenty’s inauguration included the real estate consortium Tenacity Group, which gave $25,000; Richard Kramer, founder and chairman of Republic Property Trust, who gave $20,000; and the Jarvis Co. LLC, a real estate investment and development firm, which gave $2,000.

Ernest Jarvis, who is affiliated with the Jarvis Co., is the son of former D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, whom Mr. Fenty defeated in 2001 to win the council’s Ward 4 seat.

Bank of America and Chevy Chase Bank each donated $25,000. Engineering consulting firm Delon Hampton & Associates and the Comcast cable-TV company contributed $10,000 and $15,000, respectively.

The musical talent began taking the stage at about 9 p.m. Soul singer Kenny Lattimore was among the performers as guests geared up to celebrate into the night.

“As a Ward 4 resident, I had to come out and support Adrian,” said Jamey Starks, 41, a small-business owner. “I’ve seen him do a lot of good things as a councilman, and so far I think he’s off to a tremendous job as mayor.”

Kevin Chaffee contributed to this report.

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