Thursday, August 04, 2011

President Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday Today; Herbie Hancock Will Play At White House Party

President will celebrate his milestone privately with family and friends...
UPDATE: A full party post is here
UPDATE: More party details here
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, President Obama marks his 50th birthday today. He has no public events scheduled, and will celebrate his milestone privately at the White House with family and friends, after spending Wednesday night in Chicago at a huge campaign fundraiser/birthday bash. The President's private party is reportedly going to take place in the Rose Garden, and Jazz great Herbie Hancock and his ensemble will perform, Obama Foodorama has learned. The group performed at the fundraiser, too. Daughter Malia will return from summer camp for the celebration, President Obama said last night. (Above: President Obama lights birthday candles with Oval Office valet Raymond Rogers; inset as a child with his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham)

Hancock and company are now apparently the White House "house band"--A pianist and composer, Hancock tickled the ivories at President Obama's reception following the State Dinner in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao, in January of this year. The Obama daughters' godmother, Eleanor "Mama Kaye" Wilson, accompanied the President back to Washington aboard Air Force One last night, as did his mother-in-law, Mrs. Marian Robinson, so they're likely guests at the party, of course, but no guest list has been released. The President's staff will throw him a smaller party today, too. (Above: Hancock and the President on Wednesday night)

"It’s true that I turn 50 tomorrow--which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an email from AARP-- asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare," Mr. Obama joked to the donors at his fundraiser. He was serenaded by superstar Jennifer Hudson in addition to Hancock and Chicago band OK GO. Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel introduced the President, who gave two different speeches, as well as spoke to supporters during a video teleconference that was beamed across the US to Obama Birthday House Parties.

Presidential birthday wishes already came true...
In July, the President said he hoped for two birthday gifts: A debt deal and "a good hamburger."

"You know, maybe I'll have a good hamburger on my birthday," President Obama told NPR, after noting that the best present of all would be a debt ceiling deal with Congress.

"That's kind of sad, I know," the President admitted.

Mission accomplished on both fronts: The President signed the debt deal into law on Tuesday, and on Wednesday treated his White House economic team to burgers at DC's Good Stuff Eatery.

Presidential birthdays past...
The President's previous White House birthday celebrations have been private, too. Last year, he celebrated with family and friends at the White House during a belated birthday BBQ on August 8th, because First Lady Obama and daughter Sasha were on vacation in Spain on August 4th. The stag President had a small birthday dinner at graham elliot restaurant on August 4th in Chicago, joined by a group of friends that included Oprah Winfrey. (Above: The President hugs Sasha at his birthday BBQ; she had arrived with her mother just as it began)

The BBQ was notable because it kicked off a months-long White House campaign to encourage America to eat Gulf seafood, after the fishing industry was devastated by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in US history. Gulf shrimp was the lone menu item the White House announced for the President's birthday BBQ.

In 2009, the President had a small birthday celebration at the White House, which featured five kinds of pie, courtesy of executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, aka "The Crustmaster." The celebration pies: Huckleberry, Apple, Coconut Creme, Key Lime, and Peach. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Malia look on as the President reads a card from Sasha. The White House chefs, including Yosses, are in the background; then-Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is at right)

*Photos by Pete Souza/White House; in top photo President Obama was presenting NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough with the cake, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 2, 2009. Hudson photo by AP.