While trick-or-treaters make their way across Washington on Sunday in search of Halloween candy, the White House is departing from its annual tradition and is closing its doors to little ghosts and goblins looking for treats.
Typically, the White House invites trick-or-treaters to receive candy and treats from the president and first lady. The event, however, will not take place this year.
“The president and first lady will be traveling internationally during the last days of October, and will not be hosting a specific event at the White House,” the first lady’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa, said in a statement.
The Bidens will be in Rome, where the president will attend the annual G-20 summit of the world’s leading economic powers Saturday and Sunday.
Despite the Bidens’ absence, the White House is not taking a rain check on the spooky holiday. According to LaRosa, the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the building will be lit up in orange light to celebrate Halloween.
LaRosa said the Bidens were encouraging families and children to celebrate by trick-or-treating outdoors.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, public health experts maintain that outdoor activities and gatherings are low risk when it comes to spreading the virus.
Halloween is a highly anticipated event for children across the United States. Throughout October, many Americans put up festive decorations, watch scary movies and plan their costumes.
On Halloween night, children dress up in costumes and grab bags before heading to the streets of their communities to trick-or-treat. Going door to door, they greet their neighbors by saying “Trick or treat!” in exchange for candy. At the end of the night, they’ll sort through the candy and enjoy their favorites.
Older generations also celebrate the holiday. Young adults might dress up and go to Halloween parties, while older adults stay home and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.
The White House tradition of celebrating Halloween dates to the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. president. According to the White House Historical Association, first lady Mamie Eisenhower was the first to decorate the White House for the holiday, on October 30, 1958. Skeletons and jack-o’-lanterns were hung in the State Dining Room, where the first lady hosted a luncheon for staff members’ wives.
President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy brought more attention to the holiday, letting their children visit the Oval Office in their Halloween costumes.
Since then, trick-or-treaters have visited the White House each year to receive candy.
Former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted an event last year during the pandemic. While they did not personally hand out treats, White House personnel distributed candy to costumed children, and the Trumps attended the event.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.