The press pool was booted out of the historic White House Luau this afternoon before festivities started, but they were allowed to stay for President Obama's brief Aloha (above). The lawn of the Hana Kea was decorated with thatched huts, flowers garlands, shell leis, inflatable sharks and faux boats, and Congressional members and their families packed the South Lawn. Post-modern Hawaiian cuisine created by Hawaiian chef Alan Wong was served as the picnic dinner, which included Wasabi potato salad, farm green salad, Lomi Lomi salmon, stuffed new potatoes, BBQ baby back ribs, Kalua pig, shrimp and clams, Tilapia tempura rolls, crispy chicken hoagies, and grilled lamb chops. Desert was strawberry tiramisu and chocolate bars. Historic preservation considerations prevented the White House from actually digging an imu (oven pit) in the South Lawn to roast a whole pig, so the Kalua pig was slow-cooked in ovens on site. Hawaiian dance troupe Tihati performed. (In pic: Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, luau mastermind, hulas with her BlackBerry)
What interested the press who covered the event the most was the dunk tank at the picnic, because high-level admin members were slated to be the sitting ducks; Rahm Emanuel and Peter Orszag were among the victims. Before the picnic started, WH press pool members were allowed to take some shots at Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Yep, he got dunked. As did Rahm and Peter...but not by pool members. Related: More details on the White House Luau are here.