Gray skies and drizzle added a spooky element and books were plentiful like candy on the run-up to Halloween trick-or-treating that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted at the White House.
The “Hello-READ!” on Monday The event featured book giveaways and story readings by the first lady, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and authors.
The first lady showed her spirit by sporting feline ears, a tail and a black nose. She said she dressed up as her cat, Willow.
“Go have fun and eat lots of candy,” he told a group of costumed children after reading “Ten Creepy Pumpkins,” a counting book.
Jean-Pierre donned a halo and angel wings, saying he chose it over a devil costume.
After finishing reading, the president and first lady spent about 90 minutes welcoming invited children from local public schools and military families.
As costumed children walked up the driveway, Biden dropped M&M's or Hershey's Kisses in small boxes stamped with the presidential seal into their bags or buckets. The first lady distributed books.
Jill Biden, a lifelong teacher, came up with the idea “Hallow-READ!” theme and décor featuring famous literary characters, macabre tales and ghost stories, the White House said. A military band played instrumental versions of “Thriller,” “Monster Mash” and other songs.
About 8,000 guests were expected, the White House said.
Numerous departments and agencies of the federal government participated, many with booths spread across the southern grounds that were stocked with all manner of chocolate candies and other sugary treats provided by the National Confectioners Association and its member companies. Scholastic donated the books.