It was June 8, 1952, and it was Baltimore’s equivalent of a royal wedding.
According to The Baltimore Sun, so many thousands of people jammed onto the grounds of the Baltimore Basilica to watch the mayor’s son, "Little Tommy" D’Alesandro, marry Margaret ("Margie") Piracci that the fire department began to turn people away.
"She was a knockout," said Tommy D’Alesandro III, reached at his home in Ocean City on his 65th wedding anniversary. "Still is."
The bride wore a dress of imported lace with a bolero jacket. On her head was a crown of mother of pearl. She had no idea the wedding would be so big.
"I was just a young bride thinking I was gonna get married,” said Margie. “I didn't know the city was gonna find out."
On her way into the church she almost lost her engagement ring. One of the uninvited guests in the crowd, an auditor for an electric company, found it and handed it to her.
Inside were more exalted honors. Blessings from the pope. The mayor was the best man; the groom’s sister, Nancy -- later Nancy Pelosi -- was a bridesmaid. President Truman sent a silver tray as a wedding gift.
“We still have it,” said Tommy.
The receiving line at the Emerson Hotel downtown was nearly three hours long. The crowd was so massive that two women reportedly fainted. Cocktails flowed from fountains, while an orchestra played a mix of Latin and American music, and politicians hobnobbed. Tommy and Margie smiled and greeted guests under hot photographers’ lamps.
Perhaps it was good preparation for their political future. Tommy would go on to become the city’s mayor, Margie the city’s first lady.
Asked the secret of their marital bliss, Margie said, "I had a great guy, so I couldn't go wrong there."
Margie had always told her kids there were 5,000 people at her wedding. They didn’t believe her. "I didn’t really think there could be that many," said her son Nick, who lives in Baltimore County.
But Nick recently saw the old headline from The Baltimore Sun about his parents’ wedding. "D'Alesandro Wedding -- Ceremony, Pomp And Mass Revelry for 5,500."
“Mom was right,” he said.