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There won’t be any tricks or treats at the White House this year.
Michael LaRosa, press secretary for first lady Jill Biden, tweeted that the White House will not hold a specific Halloween event but will be illuminated in orange in celebration. The Bidens will be traveling for the annual G20 summit in Rome, and so they are encouraging families to trick-or-treat outdoors in neighborhoods or other venues.
On the evening of October 31, 2021, the north facade of the White House will be illuminated in orange in celebration of Halloween. The President and First Lady will be traveling internationally during the last days of October… (1/2)
— Michael LaRosa (@MichaelLaRosa46) October 27, 2021
The CDC released their updated holiday guidance this month and recommended outdoor celebrations — instead of indoor ones. Those who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask outdoors, unless in areas where there are a high number of COVID-19 cases.
There’s a long tradition of Halloween celebrations at the White House
This will be the first Halloween with the Biden administration, but it isn’t the first time White House Halloween festivities have been paused. The Obama administration welcomed local school children and military families every Halloween, except for 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.
In 2015, President Obama was brought to laughter when he met a child dressed as the Pope and riding in a “Popemobile.” He declared “Lil’ Pope” the winning costume that year.
Halloween celebrations at the White House first began when first lady Mamie Eisenhower decorated the White House with skeletons, yellow jack-o’-lanterns and dried corn in 1958. She hosted lunch for staff members’ wives in the State Dining Room.
The White House’s north entrance was converted into the mouth of a 17-foot tall pumpkin in 1969 during the Nixon administration. As 250 local children walked through, they were welcomed by witches stirring cauldrons.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump also welcomed school children and military families to trick-or-treat on the White House grounds every year in office. In 2017, they decorated with large spiders and spiderwebs, pumpkins and haystacks.
Tien Le is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.