Birthday fundraisers are scheduled for August 12 in Chicago; a look back at the President's past White House birthdays...
UPDATE, FEB. 2, 2013: President Obama went skeet shooting at Camp David, too, according to a newly released photo
UPDATE: Sam Kass celebrated with his boss
President Obama on Saturday kicked off his 51st birthday with an early round of golf on the course at Joint Base Andrews, arriving at 8:47 AM for his 104th game since taking office. Later today he will travel to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin mountains. It's a major contrast to President Obama's milestone 50th birthday bash last August, when he welcomed family, friends, and celebrities to the White House for an hours-long party. Daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, are currently at summer camp, and there's no word on whether they'll be joining their parents at Camp David. The President returns home on Sunday. (Above: The President at a campaign rally in Leesburg, Virginia on Thursday)
Turning 51 has lately been much on Mr. Obama's mind, with Election Day looming in just three short months; the private celebration at Camp David follows months of coast-to-coast travel to raise re-election cash. This week, Mr. Obama visited to Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Next week, he'll be in Connecticut and Colorado.
"My upcoming birthday next week could be the last one I celebrate as President of the United States," President Obama warned supporters in an e-mail on July 26th.
When he was inaugurated at age 47, Mr. Obama was #5 on the list of Top Ten youngest presidents. One of his presidential idols, Theodore Roosevelt, is #1, entering office at age 42.
Stump speeches now regularly feature jokes about gray hair. "Michelle says I don't look a day over 50," the President said this week, and also admitted that his birthday wish "probably would have had to do with electoral votes."
"Win in Florida wouldn’t be a bad birthday present," President Obama told an Orlando crowd on Thursday. Florida has 29 electoral college votes. Mr. Obama needs 270 to remain in office.
Thus there will be big presidential birthday action on August 12th, when the President travels to his adopted hometown of Chicago for four pricey fundraisers pegged to his special day. He held birthday-themed fundraisers in the Windy City last year, too. This year's include a backyard bash at his tony South Side home, the subject of 'Barack's Birthday,' an online fundraising contest that wooed donors with the promise of an invite. (Above: One of the ads created for the contest)
First Lady Michelle Obama has been urging supporters to sign a birthday card for her husband, which links to a donation page. The online card features a pre-White House birthday photo of the Obama family, taken in 2004.
The President's three previous White House birthdays have each been very different, running the gamut from a quiet, private surprise party celebration to a dinner out on the town to the rollicking big Five-O. With birthday fundraisers sprinkled in between, like confetti on a cake.
Birthday 2011: Turning 50 with a huge White House party...
President Obama's landmark 50th birthday party on August 4th was a closed-press blow out, with guests arriving at the White House before 5:00 PM for security screening. Participants later dished to Obama Foodorama that the affair began with an outdoor dinner in the Rose Garden featuring barbecue, and then the party moved inside on the balmy summer night for barefoot dancing in the East Room, where the historic carpet was rolled back. Among the revelers were Stevie Wonder; Jay-Z; Herbie Hancock, hoops legends Charles Barkley and Grant Hill; Whoopi Goldberg; Al Sharpton; Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith; Steve Harvey; actor Hill Harper; Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. Chris Rock tweeted about the party (above), writing "Just left the Presidents birthday party at the White House. Herbie Hancock played, Stevie Wonder sang and yes they did the electric slide. A great night." (sic).
Cabinet Secretaries and high-level aides (Valerie Jarrett, Sam Kass) were partying too, as were longtime Chicago intimates and lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
R & B singer Ledisi dazzled the crowd, and Wonder and Hancock were the house band, leading guests in 'happy Birthday" as Mrs. Obama and the girls presented the President with chocolate cake. DJ Cassidy spun dance tunes in the East Room--"like at a Bar Mitzvah," one guest said. Guests were spotted departing close to midnight, carrying their shoes due to feet sore from dancing, and clutching black gift bags with a gold Presidential seal. Months later Rock discussed the President's Big 5-0 in a comedy set.
"I felt like I died and went to black heaven, I really did. It was the most unbelievable experience of my life," Rock said, adding that "as the party went on, the sh*t got blacker and blacker."
Ahead of the 50th bash at the White House, the President was in Chicago for a birthday-themed fundraiser at the Aragon Ballroom. Hancock performed, as did Jennifer Hudson, who channeled Marilyn Monroe singing to a different President with her rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Birthday 2010: Turning 49 in Chicago; a delayed White House barbecue...
The President's birthday in 2010 was at a lower key as he marked his 49th. Mrs. Obama was on summer vacation in Spain with Sasha on August 4th, and Malia was away at summer camp. So Mr. Obama traveled to Chicago, accompanied by First Dog Bo, and he made due with an intimate dinner, joined by Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, longtime pals Eric Whittaker and Marty Nesbitt, and Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King at the acclaimed graham elliot restaurant in the city's River North neighborhood. (Above: The President posed with the chef and staff in the kitchen after his dinner; the chef tweeted the photo)
The First Lady and the girls phoned the President to extend birthday greetings, from Spain and camp. "Needless to say both those calls were the highlights of his day,” then-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.
As he arrived in the Windy City at O'Hare Airport, Governor Pat Quinn and then-Mayor Richard Daley presented the President with gifts on the runway. He made a quick visit to his Hyde Park home.
On August 8th, when Mrs. Obama and Sasha returned home to the White House, their reunion with the President came during a closed-press birthday barbecue on the South Lawn; guests included Chicago Bulls players Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, who had played hoops with the President earlier in the day. (Above: the President high fives the hoops stars during the game)
The President's birthday exhibition game with the two stars as well as friends and college players was before an audience that included wounded warriors and White House mentees at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.. At left: The President sits with Sasha during the afternoon barbecue in this official White House photo. A different photo of the father-daughter reunion is now featured in campaign materials.
Birthday 2009: Turning 48 at the White House and Camp David...
The President celebrated his 48th birthday in 2009 with a private, closed-press surprise party for family and friends at Camp David, organized by Mrs. Obama. On the actual day of his birthday, Mr. Obama was offered loads of pie, his favorite dessert, and an elaborate cake in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The official photo, above, was released. (Mrs. Obama and Malia look on as the President admires a card from Sasha)
At the White House party, Mrs. Obama and her daughters, joined by aides and White House chefs, including Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses, presented the President with pie that included Huckleberry, Coconut Cream, Apple, Key Lime, and Peach pies. Coconut Cream is the President's favorite pie, Yosses has said.
Will the President have a White House birthday party in 2013? America will find out in 94 days.
Related: Today's Photo of the Day on the White House blog is a rare photo of the President in the Kitchen Garden. The President's birthday edition of his Weekly Address featured the Olympic games. The Republican National Committee is running a birthday card campaign for the President, and on Friday, the GOP sent him a special cake.
*Top photo by Christopher Dilts/Obama for America; graham elliot photo courtesy of the chef; bottom photo by Pete Souza/White House