Military families and local school kids visit the Purple and Orange House for "the Let's Move! method of trick-or-treating"
In front of a North Portico dripping with bats and spider webs, and dramatically lit with orange and purple lights, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed area school children and military families to the White House for a second annual trick-or-treating event on Sunday evening. No tricks were reported, however, unless you count the wild pumpkin carving demonstrations going on during the festivities.
There were no costumes for the First Couple this year: The President, in a gray sweater and slacks, was clad as "a middle class dad," a creature that appears to be an endangered species in America, according to the rhetoric of Campaign 2010.
Last year, Mrs. Obama dressed as a cat, complete with furry ears and a leopard twin set; this year, she wore black pants and a sparkly, pumpkin orange twin set, complementing the hundreds of pumpkins and gourds that were set up in decorative towers across the North Lawn. A big gold bee broach perched on her collar, and the First Lady completed her nod to the holiday with glittery mascara. (Above: The President and First Lady)
The treats...and the Let's Move! method...
Starting at 6:45, the President and Mrs. Obama, joined by First Grandmother Marian Robinson, and volunteers clad in black but sporting sparkly fairy wings, handed out treats to the kids, age 6-14. The young revelers trooped up the driveway, past entertainers dressed as Frankenstein and his Bride, Dracula, the Wolfman, and other fun creatures of the night--including, oddly, Marilyn Monroe, in an interesting nod to the Ghosts of Kennedys Past. This year's cellophane treats bags, tied with white ribbons, contained goodies that were identical to those given to kids for Halloween 2009: A sweet dough butter cookie made by Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, a box of White House M&Ms, and dried fruit. Yosses told Obama Foodorama that the cookies were made with honey from the South Lawn White House Beehive, and also included organic flour and sugar.
The President and First Lady wished each child "Happy Halloween," and paused to for hugs and comments on costumes. They were handling the second wave of kids who flooded through the North Lawn.
Among the mini ghosts, princesses and pirates were students from Tubman Elementary School, which the White House chefs have adopted as their school for Chefs Move to Schools, as will as kids from Bancroft Elementary School, a long-time partner in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden. There was a Let's Move! moment: As some costumed stragglers weaved up the driveway, Mrs. Obama called to them to hurry up. She turned to the pack of media that was present to record the event, and joked that it was good exercise to work off the extra Halloween calories, as she held up one of the treat bags. (Photo above: The President escorting military families inside the White House)
"Run!" Mrs. Obama called to the kids.
"This is the Let's Move! method of trick-or-treating," joked President Obama, on cue.
The White House video of the fun:
In addition to watching expert pumpkin carving demos, the visiting kids were also treated to a variety of activities, including a dress-up booth and face painting, coordinated by the National Park Foundation. At about 7:05, President Obama and Mrs. Obama invited the remaining trick-or-treaters and their parents to go inside the White House. They posed for photos first; these were military families, according to White House aides, and they were attending a special indoor party hosted by the Obamas.
Malia and Sasha's Halloween...
As for what the Obama daughters did for Halloween: Sasha, 9, was dressed up as a turkey, the President informed the press pool on Air Force One this afternoon, during a visit to the press cabin on the flight home from a final campaign rally in Ohio (someone asked if the President would pardon her – he said that was a good idea, according to pool). The President said he didn’t know what Malia, 12, would be wearing for Halloween.
(Above: President Obama with President Lincoln, Beetlejuice, and Marilyn Monroe...)
UPDATE: Malia was dressed as a Sour Patch girl, the President revealed during an interview on Nov. 2 with radio personality Ryan Seacrest.
"They were both pretty adorable," the President said about his daughters' Halloween costumes.
Family farmers & the guest chef...
Chef James Parker, who owns Veggy Art, a small business based in Chantilly, VA, was the fellow responsible for wowing the Halloween visitors with pumpkin carving demonstrations.
Parker has previously created centerpieces for White House events, but for Halloween, he outdid himself with a 3-by-4-foot haunted house made entirely out of pumpkins (above).
Parker also asked the top competitors from Food Network's "Outrageous Pumpkins" -- including champ Ray "The Pumpkin Diva" Villafane -- to carve twelve frightening showpieces for the White House.
The other decorations on display at the White House were constructed by the pumpkin and gourd experts from The Great Pumpkin Patch, a family owned farm in Arthur, IL, which grows more than 300 varieties of the seasonal veggies, in addition to other crops. Menacing scarecrows, constructed from pumpkin heads and cornstalk bodies, were positioned across the North Lawn. (Above: a daylight shot of the North Portico, with the bat mobile and spiderwebs, as well as hay bales and dried cornstalks...and the decorative pumpkins)
Haunting musical interludes were provided by The Potholes Brass Band, from New Orleans, LA. Performers were organized for the event by the Helen Hayes Awards, a DC-based theatrical society. The trick-or-treating kids were invited from schools in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Above: Not a farmer, but a performer dressed as a farmer, with one of the massive pumpkin and gourd installations, before trick-or-treating began.
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; others via Getty, except for pumpkin haunted house; that's from James Parker, via the Washington Post; and Marilyn Monroe photo, from Jason Reed/Reuters. White House video.