President Obama had a star-studded 50th birthday party in the Rose Garden on Thursday night for approximately 200 people that included a casual picnic dinner and plenty of dancing afterwards.
According to numerous reports, guests included Jay-Z, Chris Rock, Tom Hanks, Hanks' wife Rita Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Charles Barkley, and plenty of the couple's Chicago friends, including Obama's two closest buddies, Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker. Their two young daughters, Sasha and Malia, stayed up for the party, as did first grandmother Marian Robinson. Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock performed music in the East Room, and later, guests danced barefoot on the grass in the Rose Garden to a DJ.
Shortly after midnight, Chris Rock tweeted, "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." And a private night: The president's press pool were sent home at 4 p.m. Thursday, and guests began arriving at 5.
The blog Obama-Food-O-Rama reported many of the details of the party, including that the president challenged everyone to dance -- he and the first lady led the way.
Politico reported that the guest list was heavy on political allies and White House staffers, both current and former.
Cabinet members included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who sometimes plays basketball with the president.
Plenty of guests had occupied offices in the West Wing: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was there, as was his successor as Obama's chief of staff, Bill Daley. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett came, as did former advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs, Anita Dunn, Pete Rouse, John Brennan, Susan Sher, Alyssa Mastromonaco, and White House chef Sam Kass.
From Congress came Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.). Former Democratic governors Tim Kaine and Bill Richardson both attended, as did the DNC's executive director, Patrick Gaspard, a former White House staff member.
The menu featured summer favorites like burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, salad and for dessert, four types of pie courtesy of White House pastry chef Bill Yosses: apple, peach, huckleberry and cherry. The party and its menu won't end up on the White House tab, the Obamas paid for it with their personal funds.
The party is a far cry from Obama's 49th birthday celebration, a quiet dinner in Chicago with close friends, including Oprah Winfrey. The first lady was traveling last year on her husband's birthday, and he had a boys weekend of golf at the White House with friends, including Nesbitt and Whitaker. The year before, Obama's first year in the White House, he had a private family birthday party.
This report has been updated to include details on how the party was paid for.
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