Obamas turn White House into Halloween central
The White House glowed pumpkin orange on Saturday when the Obama family turned 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into Halloween central, complete with a giant stuffed spider dangling from a web above its front door.
The Obamas spent about 30 minutes handing out cellophane bagfulls of boxed red, white and blue M&M’s. The boxes bore the presidential seal. Also tucked in was a home-baked orange-glazed cookie and, in a nod to Michelle Obama’s efforts to promote healthy food, dried apricots and cranberries.
The president didn’t wear a costume for his first Halloween in the White House. Michelle Obama went as a cat woman, complete with leopard-print top and furry ears on a headband. Daughters Malia and Sasha were there for the fun, but were not stuck with any candy line duties.
The scene was worthy of a Hollywood extravaganza. Bubble machines blanketed the North Portico, the ceremonial entrance to the White House. Pumpkins, some carved and candle lighted, lined the marble steps. Behind Obama stood a white-helmeted storm trooper character from “Star Wars,” along with the film’s Chewbacca, the hairy, apelike “wookie.”
Entertainers from the Chicago-based Redmoon Theater and other companies wove their own thrills and chills for those in line. A brass band clad in skeleton suits belted out a free jazz-style funeral stomp. Outsized figures on stilts simulated moving trees. Women in butterfly suits maneuvered inflatable, 10-foot (3-meter) snow-globe-like spheres on the White House lawn.
To heighten the Halloween effect, the White House was flood-lit through orange filters. Giant pumpkins weighing as much as 1,000 pounds (450-kg) dotted the 18-acre (7-hectare) grounds. And the big, black spider hung hauntingly between the tall white columns framing the front door.
After handing out the treats, the president welcomed the children of military families chosen by the armed services along with the kids of White House staff in the East Room.
Then Susan Rice, Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, caught his eye. She was decked out as the Disney character Goofy. “Can people please not take a picture of my ambassador to the United Nations,” Obama joshed photographers gathered to one side. He fretted aloud that U.S. diplomatic efforts might be spooked by the sight of her.
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Halloween at the White House)