Arriving Delegates Pleased At Welcome

Posted: July 30, 2000

Just before noon yesterday, Republican National Convention delegate J.A. "Dal" Dalpiaz and his wife, Lorraine, stepped off the plane in Philadelphia for their sixth Republican convention.

Dal Dalpiaz was sporting a classic broad-brimmed styrofoam hat, decorated with pins and slogans, which he brought with him from home in Gastonia, N.C. Though Dalpiaz appeared to be a delegate ready to have a good time, there also was no mistaking he's intensely serious about THE party.

Dalpiaz, 68, is a retired metalworks manufacturer, a first-generation American whose mother immigrated to the United States from Austria with a passport that would not stand up to today's scrutiny. Ronald Reagan is his hero. Less government is his creed. And optimism is his feeling about the convention.

"The different factions aren't fighting each other," he said. "I've picked up that there isn't the rancor that was present in the past," he said. "There's a feeling that everything is going to be OK."

About 70 percent of the 4,132 delegates and alternates were expected to arrive in Philadelphia yesterday. Committee members trickled in earlier in the week and the remaining official conventiongoers are expected today, just in time for tonight's official opening reception on the Camden waterfront.

Like many arriving delegates, the Dalpiazes were greeted at the airport by hordes of cheering Girl Scouts and volunteers from Philadelphia 2000 and their ubiquitous soft pretzels. The Dalpiazes were impressed with the welcome.

"It's those little things," Dal Dalpiaz said. "You're not looking for big stuff."

The North Carolina delegation is housed near the airport at the Embassy Suites hotel. As the Dalpiazes waited for their room to be assigned, they greeted their colleagues: alternate delegate Doris Lail - "it's a short name but hard to spell" - and delegate Theresa Esposito, who stopped in Maryland en route to the convention to pick up her niece, Mary Seals, 11.

Esposito arrived on Thursday, as she is a member of the rules committee. But Lail arrived yesterday, and it is her first visit to Philadelphia.

"I was very impressed," she said. "There were a lot of people there to help you. Very organized. I want to take a tour of the city."

Just then, Ferrell Blount, a national committeeman, showed up, and Dalpiaz was quick to greet him.

"Ferrell, what's going on?" he called.

"They shorted us one set of credentials. It took us about three hours to straighten it out," Blount said.

The Dalpiazes chatted awhile and finally their room was ready. Dal grabbed a cart to wheel their five bags to the fourth floor, where Lorraine was waiting.

"Welcome home," she called merrily.

Dalpiaz began to unload the bags. "I didn't do this when I was working for a living," he said. "I'll have to remember to tip myself."

They did not bother to unpack but hopped in a car and headed for lunch at Reading Terminal Market. Lorraine Dalpiaz was impressed by the Liberty Place skyscrapers and the murals on the sides of buildings.

"So far, everything has been wonderful," she said.

Linda K. Harris' e-mail address is lharris@phillynews.com

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