Celebrate Minions! Celebrate!

Even been to a celebration that no one actually wants to celebrate? Such was the scene last night at the Tribune Company’s open house for its new superbureau. Of course the main point to many observers was that there was a time when the combined Washington staffs of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Baltimore Sun, the Daily Press, the Hartford Courant, the Morning Call, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Sun Sentinel–plus Tribune’s broadcasting arm–wouldn’t have all fit on one floor. It took a lot of cutting and buy-outs to get the newsroom staff down to where it was “celebrated” last night.

Nevertheless, “celebrate” they all did. With open bars and plentiful food scattered around the common spaces and conference rooms, hundreds of journalists, sources, and friends gathered on the seventh floor of the old Woodies Building in Metro Center.

Tribune Company CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons, he of the spectacular mustache, made some brief remarks in the “commons” areas set up where all the employees are supposed to congregate and bond. (Of course, many Tribuners said last night that they’d never even been over to the other side of the office.)

While there many famous faces from the world of Tribune and non-Tribune media alike in Washington–from Sen. Barack Obama to Bloomberg’s Al Hunt to the LATimes Ed Chen to the WSJ’s (maybe CNBC soon?) John Harwood to LA Times’ Ron Brownstein, even the NY Times’ Kit Seelye popped down for the event.

Of course, there was a notably large contingent of former Tribune employees (as opposed to the soon-to-be former Tribune employees), from the LA Times’ John Hendren (now at NPR), the Baltimore Sun’s David Folkenflik (also now at NPR), and the Courant’s Liz Halloran (now at U.S. News). And, of course, former luminaries like LA Times powerhouse Jack Nelson were also around.

The slick superbureau, which space for each newspaper as well a fancy-dancy broadcasting studio occupies the entire floor, with a big “Tribune: Washington DC” at the reception desk. The space-age designed layout features lots of glass and flat screen TVs, as well as larger newsroom-like layouts in various sections for the varied entities.

There was also much black humor about the cost of the top-notch shin-dig: If the company had only offered one bar would the Hartford Courant have been allowed to keep an extra staffer? Or how about that tuxedo-clad piano player in the lobby on the way up: Wasn’t he Newsday’s congressional correspondent up until January?

Unfortunately for everyone, the night’s mood wasn’t a joke.