Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Obamas Celebrate Halloween 2011 With Early White House Festivities--UPDATED, With Video

A rare Halloween snowstorm doesn't stop the President and First Lady's pumpkin-laden celebration with thousands of local trick-or-treaters...
As a light snow fell on the White House, President Obama and First Lady Obama celebrated Halloween early this year, welcoming a couple thousand local kids for trick-or -treating under the orange-lit North Portico, beginning at 5:48 PM on Saturday. The First Couple were surrounded by cobwebs, bats, bales of hay, plenty of pumpkins--and a statue of First Dog Bo, dressed as Superman--as they greeted excited but drenched kids for the annual fun. The President was "costumed" as First Dad, in gray slacks and a black fleece, while Mrs. Obama's dress was a graphic interpretation of Halloween colors under a heavy black coat. First Grandmother Marian Robinson--wearing fluffy black bunny ears and painted-on whiskers--also joined the treat-doling line. All held baskets laden with goodie bags, and more baskets filled the steps of the North Portico. (Above: The First Couple and First Grandmother in action)

"Hey, how are you? Happy Halloween!" the President greeted the kids.

The first kids in line included Batman, Harry Potter and at least one Green Bay Packer. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, and Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison were also handing out treats; they're the star staffers of the holiday, after all, and both got their costume inspirations from Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden: Yosses wore a giant red chili pepper costume, while Morrison was a bumble bee, in homage to the White House Beehive. (Above: Morrison the bee behind the President; Yosses is behind the First Lady)

“I know it’s cold here, you guys doing alright? It’s not ideal out here," President Obama said to the kids.

The treats are exactly the same as the treats for the Obama's two previous Halloweens: Each cellophane goodie bag, tied with a purple ribbon, included a box of White House M&Ms, a White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie, and a scoop of the dreaded dried fruit that the President publicly worried about earlier in the week. The recipes for the cookies and the dried fruit mix are here. But there was an addition to the treat bags, too.

Reese's candy added to the treat bags...
There was one unannounced addition to the treat bags: A package of Reese's peanut butter candy was included in each one, too--something the White House didn't announce on Friday when revealing this year's treats in a media advisory. The President "called for" the inclusion of the treats during an appearance on the Tonight Show earlier this week. The First Lady's Let's Move! campaign practice of including dried fruit in the treat bags could get the White House "egged," the President said. (Above: A long shot of the action; Yosses as chili pepper is at left)

"Halloween's coming up, and she's been giving--for the last few years--the kids--fruit and raisins in their bags," President Obama said. "And I said 'the White House is going to get egged if this keeps up. You need to throw some candy in there...Put in a couple Reese's Pieces or something.'"

Mission accomplished.

As he handed out treats, a boy dressed as a headless man impressed Mr. Obama. (Above)

“Look at this guy!” he said. “It’s a headless man – terrible!”

The kid revelers were elementary students from D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools, along with children from military families. After the trick-or-treating, the President and Mrs. Obama hosted a special party in the East Room for the military kids and their families, as they did in 2009 and 2010.

“A cookie!” yelled 3-year-old Peyton Wood after she got her treat bag. Asked by the pooler on duty what she thought about trick-or-treating at the White House, Wood responded with a big smile: “It’s President Obama!”

The Marine Band played and costumed characters greeted the kids as they moved across the snowy North Lawn; actors from theaterWashington and other local venues were called to duty. Chef James Parker of VeggyArt in in Chantilly, Va., demonstrated pumpkin carving from a station set up on the lawn. Parker demonstrated his fabulous gourds at last year's celebration, too. Why mess with immortal perfection?

After the Halloween celebration, the President headed for the Washington Hilton to deliver the keynote address at the National Italian American Foundation's 36th Anniversary Awards Gala. The black-tie event was for more than 2,000 guests.

The White House preparations...
For the past few days, staff and volunteers have been busily strewing cobwebs through the historic trees and bushes on the White House grounds, and stacking up piles of pumpkins, including some that the President and Mrs. Obama purchased during a stop last week at a farmers market in Virginia. These were carved by the chefs into fun, scary shapes. There were piles all over. (Above: The President loads a pumpkin onto Ground Force One)

The White House on Friday released a video about decor and kitchen preparations. Pastry chef Morrison gives a peek into the pastry kitchen at 1:06:

More details...
"The trick-or-treaters are elementary students from local schools in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas as well as children from the Boys and Girls Club of America and children from military families," the White House said.

More from the festive advisory: "As the trick-or-treaters make their way across the North Lawn to the North Portico they will be entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by in-costume actors from Washington-area theatres, brought together by theatreWashington. (Above: A detail of a bat decoration above the North Portico)

Kids from the following schools were invited:

DC Public Schools: Truesdell Elementary, Walker-Jones Elementary, Stanton Elementary, Achievement Prep Academy. Virginia DC Public Schools: Abingdon Elementary, Arlington Science Focus Elementary, Barcroft Elementary, Barrett Elementary, Campbell Elementary, Key Elementary, Belmont Elementary, Mary Williams Elementary. Maryland Public Schools: Mary B. Neal Elementary School, Concord Elementary, Rogers Heights Elementary, Montgomery Knolls Elementary, Highland View Elementary.

Related: CLICK HERE for a post about the 2009 Obama Halloween Celebration; CLICK HERE for a post about the 2010 Obama Halloween Celebration.

*AP photos; updated with White House video

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