As promised, I attended Thursday night's Howard County Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. BTW, I will gladly attend the local Lincoln Day Dinner, or another Republican event, if invited, offered a ticket, and able to attend. I am a Democrat but as your local icon, the Marshmallow Man knows no partisan boundaries. OK, so let's see if this thing happens.
I've attended these dinners, except for a few, since 1990. The dinner has long graduated from it's days as a $20 event held at the Ellicott City Armory and was held last night at Ten Oaks Ballroom. Well over 200 attended, and the program for the evening consisted of a career retrospective and tribute to County Executive Ken Ulman. It was certainly that, and the program, while lighthearted in some respects, was more substantial and less rousing and emphasizing of partisan dogma. Including and capped off by Ulman's remarks, the overall tone was reflective and hopeful.
And in this way, the night didn't feel much like a political event, or partisan rally, at all. And many of my past experiences have been of that thing!
Really, rather, last night felt like sending a child off to college. There was a tone of, "You've done good, son, we've loved the time, we love you, you're starting out on a new life. Now it's time to move on to a bigger stage." That last sentence being almost verbatim, a line from Ulman's speech.
The end of the evening saw Ulman invite the crowd to join him for "one more speech" Monday at the lakefront, featuring his "secret friend" (a term used by the Democratic County Council members earlier). Unfortunately, work commitments prohibit me from making it Monday.
It would have been interesting what the tone of the event would've been had it been held even 2-3 months ago. It probably would've served as some sort of launching pad. And it was a launching pad of sorts, but in a more transitional sense.