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  • Halloween at the White House has been a fun tradition honored by presidential administrations over the past 60 years.
  • It started when First Lady Mamie Eisenhower first decided to decorate the White House for the holiday in 1958.
  • Since then, presidents and their first ladies have welcomed costumed children to the White House to trick-or-treat on Halloween amid festive decorations and entertainment.
  • Here’s how Halloween is celebrated at the White House.

Ever since First Lady Mamie Eisenhower decked out the White House with faux skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, and bundles of dried corn in 1958, celebrating Halloween has been a beloved tradition of presidential administrations.

Local children and children of military families are often invited to trick-or-treat as performers provide entertainment amid the festively decorated grounds. Even White House staffers get into the spirit by donning costumes.

Here’s a look at how various administrations have honored Halloween at the White House over the past 60 years.

Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. showing off their Halloween costumes to their father President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office on October 31, 1963.


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JFK laughed as his children visit the Oval Office in costume.

(Cecil W. Stoughton/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

On October 19, 1977, Amy, the daughter of President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and friends carved pumpkins during Amy’s 10th birthday party at the White House.


Amy Carter had a Halloween-themed birthday party at the White House.play

Amy Carter had a Halloween-themed birthday party at the White House.

(AP Photo)

First Lady Barbara Bush greeted trick-or-treaters outside the South Portico of the White House on Halloween in 1989.


The Bushes hosted a Halloween party for 600 schoolchildren on the South Lawn in 1989.play

The Bushes hosted a Halloween party for 600 schoolchildren on the South Lawn in 1989.

(Mark Reinstein/MediaPunch/IPx/Associated Press)

President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush joked around with TV personality Willard Scott during a Halloween party on the White House lawn in 1989.


Willard Scott making conversation with the Bushes at their White House Halloween party.play

Willard Scott making conversation with the Bushes at their White House Halloween party.

(Barry Thumma/Associated Press)

President George W. Bush posed with local children who were trick-or-treating at the White House on Halloween in 2002.


Children dressed as cowboys, athletes, witches, and more.play

Children dressed as cowboys, athletes, witches, and more.

(Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama handed out candy to kids at the White House on October 31, 2009. The first family welcomed more than 2,600 children and parents from Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to the White House for a Halloween party.


The Obamas dished out candy to children.play

The Obamas dished out candy to children.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Trick-or-treaters received packets of Presidential M&Ms, orange White House Halloween cookies, and dried fruit in 2009.


The Obamas invited children to the White House for a Halloween party every year he was in office except 2012, when Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the US.play

The Obamas invited children to the White House for a Halloween party every year he was in office except 2012, when Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the US.

(Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

As children waited in line to trick-or-treat at the White House in 2009, performers like this skeleton band kept them entertained.


The White House had all sorts of Halloween-themed activities.play

The White House had all sorts of Halloween-themed activities.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Adults dressed as Dracula and Frankenstein doled out treats to costumed children in 2010.


No one left the party without candy.play

No one left the party without candy.

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Even though it was snowing, children from the Washington area and from military families delighted in trick-or-treating at the White House on Halloween 2011.


The snow didn't stop children from trick-or-treating at the White House.play

The snow didn’t stop children from trick-or-treating at the White House.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

On Halloween 2013, President Obama and the First Lady greeted visitors to commence the annual Halloween celebration at the White House.


The White House is decorated with spiders, cobwebs, pumpkins, and stacks of hay.play

The White House is decorated with spiders, cobwebs, pumpkins, and stacks of hay.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Halloween decorations designed to look like the “first dogs” added to the festivities. “Sunny” and “Bo,” dressed as a sunflower and a pirate, posed at the White House.


At a glance, they almost looked real.play

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At a glance, they almost looked real.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

The White House was decked out in orange pumpkins on October 31, 2014.


A large pumpkin sat in the center of the front entrance of the White House.play

A large pumpkin sat in the center of the front entrance of the White House.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trapeze artists danced alongside children as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed everyone to the White House for Halloween in 2015.


Trapeze artists, dancers, and other performers kept guests entertained.play

Trapeze artists, dancers, and other performers kept guests entertained.

(Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

A bumble bee and some emojis took photos of President Obama at the White House in 2016.


Guests received treats and got to take pictures with Obama.play

Guests received treats and got to take pictures with Obama.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Obama and the first lady gave out Halloween treats to children on October 31, 2016.


Children of all ages were welcomed to the celebration, like this baby with a pumpkin hat.play

Children of all ages were welcomed to the celebration, like this baby with a pumpkin hat.

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Costumed children of journalists and White House staffers were invited to the Oval Office in 2017 to meet President Trump.


Trump handed out some Halloween treats.play

Trump handed out some Halloween treats.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Specially carved jack-o-lanterns of important American figures decorated the White House on Halloween 2017.


This one is of Alexander Hamilton.play

This one is of Alexander Hamilton.

(CARLOS BARRIA/Reuters)

As part of the 2017 festivities, children were invited to trick or treat at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.


Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters helped costumed visitor Chloe Price find a seat before Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a briefing.play

Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters helped costumed visitor Chloe Price find a seat before Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a briefing.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, wearing a bright orange blazer for the holiday, enjoyed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ Ms. Frizzle costume in 2017.


Everyone was dressed in theme at the White House.play

Everyone was dressed in theme at the White House.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump gave out sweets to trick-or-treating kids on the South Lawn in 2017.


Hundreds of children and their families celebrated Halloween with the Trumps.play

Hundreds of children and their families celebrated Halloween with the Trumps.

(CARLOS BARRIA/Reuters)

Standing next to the President, the First Lady greeted a miniature firefighter with a treat from her basket on Halloween 2017.


The treats were wrapped in orange plastic baggies.play

The treats were wrapped in orange plastic baggies.

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

That same day, the White House looked fun and foreboding, thanks to elaborate decorations.


Giant spiders, expansive webs, and purple lighting covered the White House.play

Giant spiders, expansive webs, and purple lighting covered the White House.

(CARLOS BARRIA/Reuters)



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