President Obama marked Father’s Day early on Friday, declaring that being a dad is "the best job I've got" as he hosted a luncheon in the State Dining Room. In a continuing effort at outreach to youth in his hometown, guests were fathers and their children as well as students and leaders from the Becoming a Man (BAM) program at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago. (Above, with guests and BAM students in black t-shirts)
The White House dubbed the event a celebration of "the importance of strong families and mentorship." The President met some of the fourteen students and five adult chaperones from BAM who were among his eighty luncheon guests during a Feb. 15th visit to the Academy. It is located less than a mile from his Chicago residence.
“What’s going on everybody?” President Obama said as he entered at 11:40 AM, clad in a dark suit, white shirt and tie.
“It is good to see all of you here, so many young people, so many outstanding dads--a few moms chaperoning," President Obama said.
“Obviously, this is a great way for us to celebrate Father’s Day and just to remind ourselves, those of us who are fathers, how lucky we are. It's the best job I've got."
Some top Administration officials were sprinkled among the eight tables for ten in the State Dining Room, where bowls of apples stood in for floral arrangements. The President's favorite lunch foods--cheeseburgers and French fries--starred on the menu, accompanied by salad, ice cream, and cookies. Beverages were lemonade and water.
Among the officials seated with guests were White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council; Alan Krueger, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Legislative Affairs; and Jason Furman, the nominee to replace Krueger. (Above, McDonough with a young guest)
“The idea that we might get afternoon ice cream is always good,” President Obama said, and got a loud laugh from one child guest.
“Yes, I know--it makes people happy,” President Obama said.
The President walked from table to table, greeting guests and posing for photos. He paused to cradle a baby and coo over it, making small talk with a proud parent.
The students from BAM also got a tour of the Oval Office from President Obama, who spoke about some of the historic features of the storied seat of power (above). They also had a roundtable discussion about mentorship with Administration staffers, a White House official said.
First lady Michelle Obama hosted students from Chicago’s Harper High School at the White House on June 5th, after visiting the school in April. The students also got to meet the President.
The President was scheduled to honor the 2012 WNBA champion Indiana Fever in a ceremony after the luncheon, which was covered by pool.
The President has no public events scheduled on Saturday. On Sunday, Father's Day, the First Family departs in the evening at 9:35 PM for Belfast, Northern Ireland.
*White House photos by Pete Souza (1 and 4) and Amanda Lucidon (2 and 3)