It all started with a Facebook status I posted in early December asking if anyone could hook me up with a way to get a tour in the White House before the Obama administration ended...specifically during the Christmas holiday, since that was when I'd be in the DC area. Most people responded saying that it was too late, and that I would have had to request a tour a couple weeks earlier. I deleted the status because I didn't want to seem naive.
A few days later, I got a Facebook message that said, "Since you asked..."
It was an invitation to one of the Obama's White House parties! The problem was that I already had travel plans for that time and I was scheduled to travel with others. Blah blah...long story short, I rescheduled my trip and got my friend to submit my information to attend the party! I was in there!
The day of the party, I hopped on a Greyhound bus first thing in the morning, while already in my suit (you can't have bags with you at the White House, so I couldn't risk packing something to change when I arrived in DC). As soon as I touched down in DC, I went to the restroom in Union Station to fix myself up, and headed over to the southeast entrance of the White House to wait. It was happening!
One of my travel buddies and her family were the only ones waiting at the entrance at the moment. So, I waited with them, and over the next hour we watched the line start to form behind us. We went through a very smooth security check-in process, and BAM, we were the first ones in the White House for the party! This was perfect, because it allowed us to take all the photos we wanted before everyone else got in.
So let's talk about the event!
The White House holiday party is an event where people walk around and mingle whilst eating and drinking. However, there are a few set-ups with tables and chairs. We placed our items at a table and headed right to the open bar and buffet. Champagne was everywhere! Actually, there were servers holding trays of champagne shortly after we entered the building. I downed two glasses before I event thought about food. This was my way of coping with my excitement. The buffet and open bar overfloweth. They have everything from lamb chops to lobster claws, shrimp as big as your head and cauliflower mac ‘n cheese. The food is set up in the East Room and the State Dining Room. Though I stacked my plate with food, when I sat down, I found myself just picking over it. I was way too excited to eat...however, I did consume every last shrimp I had on my plate.
Now, let's talk about the eggnog....the eggnog at the White House is infamous! If you ever get a chance to go (it's understandable if you don't want to go there while Gargamel is President, however), you have to try it. "I don't drink eggnog." Blah...shut up and drink it, dammit! When I walked up to get some, the first thing the server asked me was, "Did you eat? If not, eat first and then come back!" That's how strong it is...and she wasn't lying! Pro-tip: The perfect things to couple with the eggnog are the gingerbread cookies, which can be found at the awesome dessert tables.
Everything is so damn fancy! And in each room, there are secret service agents and White House workers who are extra friendly, and happy to give you information about the residence, or snap a photo for you. They weren't intimidating at all, which was surprising to me. They seemed to be happy just to see all of us happy.
At about mid-way through the party, the Obamas descended down the the staircase, and greeted us with a few words, followed by a brief meet-and-greet. As President Obama was coming down the line shaking hands and talking to us, I asked him for one last fist bump...and he obliged!! That made everything I sacrificed worth it (I canceled a flight to Martinique in order to attend the party)! Check them out in the Snapchat video later in this post.
After they made their exit, I headed right back to the buffet. It was time for more shrimp and champagne. I could feel that the bubbly was starting to go to my head, but that did not stop me from partaking. It actually helped me to start networking and speaking to people I don't know. After one glass of champagne, I decided it was time for more eggnog...four glasses later I was in the Blue Room spinning around in circles by the Christmas tree. That's right...I was drunk in the damn White House. YOLO, I guess? I'm so ashamed...well, a little.
At around the three-hour mark, the White House workers began to nicely usher everyone toward the exit, and you could tell no one wanted to leave. Everyone (including me) was trying to snap last minute photos. On my way out, I started to notice all of the candid photos of the past First Families on the walls, and right before I exited, I snapped a few photos of the flyest First Family to ever grace the halls of the historic building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
I rescheduled a flight and shortened a vacation in Martinique from 4 days to 2 days in order to attend this holiday party. Believe it or not, my dumb ass turned down the party at first, in order to stick to the plans I made with my friends in the Fresh Caribbean. I am so glad Jesus busted me upside my head in my sleep that night, and that my friend was gracious enough to still give me the tickets. Luckily, my friends were understanding (*whispers* But even if they weren't, I'd have just dealt with them being mad for a little while, LOL).
I'm just a regular guy with a huge smile, hearty laugh and smart mouth. I work a nine-to-five and get pissed off with my job just like everyone else. I actually started that week in a really pissy mood, believe it or not. Having this opportunity, however, proves that things can change within the blink of an eye. That doesn't mean I won't return to work pissed tomorrow, though...
Anyway, cheers to the Obamas!
My Snapchat story from the awesome day
Pro-Tips about Visiting the White House
You cannot bring a bag of any kind in the White House. Since I was taking a day trip there, I didn't bother packing a change of clothes because where the hell would I have stored the bag? They have no place to house your bags, and will actually turn you away if you have one.
The name and birthdate you use to register for your White House event or tour need to be the exact same as what is on your ID. No exceptions.
Just take pictures with your smart phone. They don't allow you to being in cameras with detachable lenses. If you have a flip phone, I'm sorry...
Try to arrive as early as possible for events. That way, when you get inside, you'll have a lot of space to take all of the photos you'd like before the rooms get crowded.