Thursday, February 09, 2012

First Lady Hosts Let's Move! Birthday Party In Iowa, Joined By Governor Branstad & Celebs

First Lady celebrates with celebs, sports stars & thousands of kids in Des Moines...
Des Moines, Iowa:
First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off her three-day Let's Move! anniversary celebration with rock star flair on Thursday morning, speaking to a crowd of about 14,000 cheering kids in the dramatically lit Wells Fargo Arena. It was the largest live event for Let's Move! in the two-year history of the campaign, and included a massive cake made of fruit and vegetables. Mrs. Obama had the kids on their feet, leading them from the stage in the "Interlude Dance," accompanied by celeb fitness coach Bob Harper, best known for TV's The Biggest Loser. (Above: Mrs. Obama dances with kids)

Governor Terry Branstad and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as well as a spate of sports stars were on hand for the birthday celebration, and joined the dancing, if reluctantly.

"This is so cool!" Mrs. Obama said when she arrived to deafening applause. "Happy Birthday, Let's Move!"

"I'm proud that you guys are eating your fruits and vegetables," Mrs. Obama told the crowd. "I'm proud that you guys are walking to school instead of taking the bus."

The Interlude Dance was made popular at the University of Northern Iowa, where students do it en masse during sports events. Mrs. Obama lauded Iowa's Healthiest State initiative, which is in line with her campaign. Branstad proclaimed February 9, 2012 as Let's Move! Iowa Day. (A long shot of the arena, as Branstad made his remarks)

"We want every state in the country to do exactly what Iowa is doing," Mrs. Obama said.

She described all the things she has done in the past two years to promote the initiative: Hula hooping, flag football, dancing, jumping jacks. Mrs. Obama also said the President believes in physical fitness, and works out nearly every morning before going to the Oval Office.

Vilsack, a former two-term Iowa governor, warmed up the crowd, before turning the mic over to local celebrities like Coach Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State University. The kids waved towels and placards that read "Get Movin.'" Before the First Lady spoke, the crowd heard testimonials from kids living a healthier lifestyle: "We're going to drink milk!" said one boy. "We're going to eat fruits and vegetables!" said another.

Katelyn Epperly
, an American Idol top eight finalist, sang Coldplay's "The Scientist," while the kids waved glowing phones, the modern version of lighters at rock concerts.

There was a very special Let's Move! birthday cake, made of fruit, prominently displayed on stage. After singing "Happy Birthday," confetti and balloons showered from the rafters, sending the young audience into a frenzy.

Mrs. Obama was also accompanied by NASCAR racing champion and member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Carl Edwards, Olympic figure skating champion and President’s Council member Michelle Kwan, Olympic champion gymnast Shawn Johnson, 2011 WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings. (Above: Harper is to the right of Mrs. Obama)

Local performers included Norwalk Show Choir, SE Polk High School Kick Team, Valley High School Competition Cheerleaders, Valley High School a cappella singing group, Elite Edge Dance Company, Storm Chasers Cheerleaders, Iowa Skippers, Waukee a cappella singing group, University of Iowa Breakers, Isiserettes and the UNI Interlude creators.

Aides accompanying Mrs. Obama on the three-day tour include her Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen; top Domestic Policy Advisor, Jocelyn Frye; Communications Director, Kristina Schake; and Press Secretary Hannah August, among others. Members of the White House new media team and photographers are capturing the action.

*The transcript of the First Lady's remarks.

*Top photo by Sonya N. Herbert/White House; others by AP; stadium photo second tweeted by @TerryBranstad