ANNAPOLIS – There were no surprise headliners, and the president-elect was a no-show, but that didn’t matter much at Maryland Democratic Inaugural Ball Sunday because, after all, there were two flat screen televisions.
“I ran past the bar to come to the flat screen,” said Elaine Garven of Baltimore, who snagged a place at a cocktail table in front of one TV.
That was the best spot in the house to catch the Baltimore Ravens’ unlikely appearance in the National Football League’s AFC championship game — an eventual 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Garven was one of hundreds of people who came to the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the historic election of Barack Obama. She was also one of more than 100 people who crowded around the two screens to watch the big game.
The flat screens were at the end of a long hallway, where midway sat an ice-sculpture of Barack Obama atop a table with plates of salad, but the vegetarian ambiance was just in the way as people bumped against it making their way to and from the makeshift TV den.
Even Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, said as a Ravens fan he couldn’t resist.
“I was there five minutes ago,” he said. “I got to go check in again.”
But other partygoers checked into the den for good.
“I’m staking (a spot) out so I can watch football,” said Robert J. “Bob” Kresslein, deputy treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party. He was wearing a tuxedo with a purple bowtie.
“I picked the purple bowtie on purpose,” he said, “so I could show my loyalty (to the Ravens). (The bowtie) came to me like a vision.”
Kresslein then loosened one button on his crisp, white shirt to reveal the gray and purple Ravens T-shirt he wore underneath.
He cheered when Ray Lewis forced a fumble and Jim Leonhard recovered. It was before halftime and he had no plans of leaving his prime spot in the hall to enter ballroom.
“Where are the doors?” he said.
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner found the doors. He was inside the ballroom, but he was disappointed there was no JumboTron.
“I thought there’d be a JumboTron. I watched as long as I could. Then I came here,” he said.
Working the crowds, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett found it difficult to concentrate on the festivities as party-going football fans sporadically burst into cheers at any sign of a Ravens comeback.
“It’s a little bit difficult to concentrate on what’s going on here,” he said, “and not pay a little bit of attention to the game.”
But for Howard County Executive Ken Ulman the football game was what was going on here. He was not about to trade his coveted spot near the TV for a dance to the musical styling of Sound Connection, even though the Ravens were down 13-0.
“I may stake it out here all night,” he said. “I’m feeling very optimistic. Just like the Ravens are about to make a comeback, the country is about to make a comeback.”