A Party With Heart: The People’s Inaugural

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The Washington Post has a front-page story today on the mystery purchaser of the JW Marriott’s luxe, $1-million inaugural package. What businessman Earl W. Stafford plans to do with these top-notch accommodations right along the parade route will warm your heart. It’s not a typical Washington story:

This morning, the Marriott is scheduled to announce that the buyer is a Virginia businessman who wants to bring to the inauguration disadvantaged people, terminally ill patients, wounded soldiers and others down on their luck.

Earl W. Stafford, 60, of Fairfax County, the founder of a Centreville technology company who grew up as one of 12 children of a Baptist minister, said he will provide his guests lodging, food and special access, as well as beauticians, gowns and tuxedos, if necessary.

Stafford has paid the $1 million, a spokesman said, and is prepared to spend $600,000 more for a breakfast, a luncheon and two balls at the hotel. Stafford said he hopes to recoup some of the $600,000 from other sponsors, yet to be recruited.

“We wanted to . . . bless those who otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to be a part of the great celebration, the inauguration and the festivities,” he said in an interview yesterday. “Our objective is to bring in a cross-section of society — those who are distressed, those who are terminally ill, those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, those veterans who are wounded and served our country.”

As for the more traditional inaugural partying for fat cats, here’s a list. The Illinois State Society may be the hot ticket of the night; Black Tie and Boots, not so much.