Tuesday, July 5, 2011

White House 4th of July 2011

Last night John, Jack, and I were lucky enough to go to the White House for the 4th of July.  It was something we'd been told we'd probably have a chance to do when John took this job, but last year we weren't able to get in.  After not making it into the Easter Egg Roll either, we weren't holding our breath for this year's 4th of July, but fortunately John's entire office got to go this year!  It may have been my favorite 4th of July ever.

Down at the end of the South Lawn. 
We met John's coworkers across the street from the White House at 5:00 p.m. and didn't even have to wait in line to get in.  I was worried it would be a zoo, but it was remarkably uncrowded.  Tables were set up on the lawn, some with "candy" centerpieces, and others with what looked like cupcake centerpieces.  Naturally I gravitated towards the cupcakes, but alas, they were apples (should have known Michelle Obama wouldn't put candy and cupcakes on the tables!).  The candy centerpieces, as well as the stands for the apples, were made with paper plates.

Jack and a Model-T.

After we settled in at our table, I took Jack to play with the giant beach balls strewn on the lawn.  The President's Own Marine Band was playing in the background.  We waited for the lines to die down before getting our free family photo taken in front of the White House, and in the meantime I got Jack his first balloon animal.  The balloon animal artists (seriously, these people were ARTISTS) made some of the craziest balloon animals I've ever seen.  There was a giant octopus, monkeys with bananas, mermaids, helicopters, adorable little balloon wrist-corsages (I saw a pig and a ladybug, as well as various flowers), a giant giraffe, and for Jack, a tiny little panda bear.  It was adorable, and Jack thoroughly enjoyed it, until he ate its nose.

Jack and his panda balloon.

Obama spoke briefly, flanked by veterans who were being honored for their service.  There was a receiving line after he spoke, but he didn't make it to the end where I was standing with Jack.  John and I walked with Jack all over the lawn, and we finally made it down to the vegetable garden, which we'd missed during the Spring Garden Tour.  Dinner was simple, and unfortunately not veggie-friendly at all, which was sort of surprising given Michelle's campaign for healthy eating.  There were pre-made hotdogs and hamburgers (so we couldn't even make a meatless burger), grilled corn on the cob (tasty, but not the easiest thing to eat in polite company), a salad with candied walnuts and cucumbers, grilled chicken, and a potato salad that I didn't realize had large chunks of pork in it until after I'd put it on my plate.  There were also watermelon skewers, and - thank goodness! - Dove ice cream bars for dessert.

Obama, Michelle (to his right), and some very special American heroes.

We camped out on the lawn after dinner, hoping to catch some of the concert before leaving, but Train didn't come on until around 8:30 (I'm guessing - we left at 8:15 so we could get Jack to bed at a semi-reasonable hour).  We missed the fireworks too, obviously, which was a shame.  Maybe we'll get to go back some year when Jack is older, but even without the "show," we had a wonderful time.

Happy Independence Day!


Carl Woody said...

I was one of the balloon twisters at the White House Fourth of July Party. It was so cool to read the account from a guest's POV. And I am so glad that Jack enjoyed his balloon.

Mara Rae said...

Hi Carl! Thanks for commenting! I was so impressed with the balloons, I actually wanted one for myself. Thank goodness I can live vicariously through Jack! You guys did a great job :)

Anonymous said...

When I've told people about the event, I couldn't help but mention the balloons either... never seen anyone do them quite like that, or have the belts they did! My favorites were seeing the octopuses, and an Uncle Sam hat (complete with a beard) that a little girl at the table next to us was wearing! I was too afraid Anneliese at just a year old would bite and pop one in her face.. which probably has more to do with my own childhood experiences than protecting her... Maybe another time. Courtney