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Virginia's now- and once-powerful gather at the inaugural.

The In Crowd

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At 11 a.m. on inauguration day, anticipation mounts on the south side of the Capitol. "It's the Easter parade!" gushes a Chanel-garbed Pamela Reynolds as the Richmond arbiter and her husband, Major (a Reynolds Wrap Reynolds), settle into choice, reserved grandstand seats directly across from the inaugural platform.

Yes, the weather is springlike, and the thousands being security wanded as they flow into the Square are dressed their Sunday best. But the parade Reynolds refers to isn't one of the bold-faced names sitting nearby — Stuart Siegel of S&K Menswear, whose name is emblazoned on the Virginia Commonwealth University sports arena; downtown developer Mark Merhige; or Robert and Peg Freeman, he formerly of Signet Bank and she a volunteer force at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

No, Reynolds is transfixed by the riveting pageant unfolding a few yards away as the Old Dominion's political up-and-comers and ghosts from the past, as well as the "this-is-my-moment" types file across the portico. They suck it in and throw back their shoulders as they step within range of TV cameras and the expectant audience.

This wide-angle spectacle, a panoply of politicos spanning five decades of state history, isn't caught by television.

Among the first famous faces to arrive is the distinguished-looking U.S. Sen. John Warner. He's been in the Senate since 1978; in 1996, he defeated Mark Warner's challenge for his job. Wearing a black fedora, black overcoat and white silk scarf, the senator negotiates the carpeted steps haltingly. Clutching the rail at the bottom, he moves cautiously to his front-row seat. The two ladies accompanying him wear full-length mink coats; they are among the few guests in pelts.

"You know he's engaged, but not to Barbara Walters," quips a Richmonder who keeps up with Washington, D.C., goings-on. Hmmm — a new Warner wife? After all, Warner, who's been keeping company with Walters, has famously been married to Elizabeth Taylor.

Warner is soon joined by fellow senator and former Gov. George Allen. Susan Allen is as resplendent as anyone on the platform. She wears a handsome tweed suit with an ample fur collar at her neck. Swept across her left shoulder is a generous swathe of fuchsia cashmere. Since dozens of other women on the platform wear some version of red or blue, Allen's shawl is just off-hue enough to pop out in the crowd. When she puts on her sunglasses to combat the furious midday glare, the glamour is complete. All this isn't lost on Warner. When George Allen sits down next to him, Warner immediately rearranges the seating to put Susan between them.

Just behind the senators are somber-faced congressmen including Republican Rep. Eric Cantor and Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott, who represent metropolitan Richmond.

Just behind them is an aspirant who never made it to the state's top post — former state Attorney General Mary Sue Terry. There is a general buzz: "Where has she been?" "I hear she had a fall off her horse." "She looks good." Former Lt. Gov. Donald Beyer, who also once ran for guv, greets Terry. He is accompanied by his wife, Megan. From a distance she looks amazingly like Hillary Clinton.

Obviously enjoying his seat, on the aisle at the top of the stairs, is former state Sen. Hunter Andrews of Hampton. Nary an attendee slips pass without paying respects to Andrews, a man who, for much of the '90s was the top gun in the legislature. When former Gov. Doug Wilder arrives (Andrews and Wilder once served together in the Senate), the two lions enjoy a lengthy chat. Then Wilder takes his seat, just a few places from Richmond Mayor Rudy McCollum.

Former U.S. Sen. Charles Robb arrives with his animated wife, Lynda Bird, waving in all directions. If Susan Allen is stunning in fuchsia, Lynda Bird is equally eye-catching in patriotic red and blue. But what is on her shoulder? Sophie Salley, a longtime local Democratic leader, peers through her binoculars for a closer look. LBJ's daughter is wearing a jewel-studded American flag the size of a lady's fist.

Former Gov. Gerald Baliles enters and shakes every hand in sight. Next to emerge is former Gov. A. Linwood Holton, whose daughter Anne will soon administer the lieutenant governor's oath to her husband, former Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine. Next comes the committee, waving and grinning. Included are Bobbi and James Ukrop and Tim and Daphne Reid.

With the platform guests seated, Gov. James Gilmore and Roxane Gilmore are announced to considerable applause.

Like members of the official inaugural committee, the governor wears a gray morning suit. "They look like they're going to a wedding," someone in the viewing stands says of the men. True, but thankfully they've dispensed with top hats. At inaugurations past, the official party has looked like a gathering of leprechauns.

Then Jerry Kilgore emerges. Next out of the shot is Tim Kaine, whose children bound down the steps.

Finally, there is Gov.-elect Mark Warner and his wife, Lisa Collis, with their three smiling daughters. The state's new first lady is so understatedly dressed in a brown wool coat, she appears almost stealthy.

Across the street, the chimes of St. Paul's Episcopal ring out the noon hour across the clear January air. After the oath and the playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes," a 19-gun salute by the National Guard rattles downtown. As the pigeons flee, so do the Gilmores, to a waiting car and the ride to their new digs in South Richmond.

Throughout the high-stepping parade, the broadly grinning new governor pays close attention, saluting each of the passing units. At some inaugurals, governors have been so swept up shaking hands and receiving well-wishers that watching the marchers from Grundy or Goochland was an afterthought. This never sat well with groups that held bake sales and car washes to make the trip to the "Holy City." The Virginia Military Institute cadet corps — the entire corps — is particularly impressive.

Toward the end of the parade, Sen. Warner makes his way to the platform where Gov. Warner is watching the marchers. The now-governor turns to receive the good wishes of the man who defeated him for the U.S. Senate.

Then the senator and his fur-clad entourage stroll down the brick sidewalk of Capitol Hill, past the fountain and depart the square via Bank Street. Sen. Warner stops to answer a reporter's question: Are there wedding bells in your future? Warner looks stunned. "No, no, no, no, no!" the senator laughs. "Who would want this old

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