There won't be a White House Halloween celebration this year
Published Wednesday, October 27, 2021 12:03PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 27, 2021 12:18PM EDT
In this October 2020 photo, the South Lawn of the White House is lit during a Halloween celebration. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)
The White House said Wednesday it would not be hosting a traditional Halloween celebration this year due to U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden's overseas travel.
Michael La Rosa, the first lady's press secretary, says the annual trick-or-treating on the South Lawn, which is typically attended by White House staff and military families, would not be taking place.
But LaRosa said they would still mark the occasion and that the White House would be illuminated orange on Oct. 31.
"The first family encourages families and children to celebrate Halloween outdoors in their neighbourhoods or other outdoor venues," La Rosa said in a statement.
The Bidens are scheduled to depart Washington on Thursday for Rome, where the president will attend the G20 Summit over the weekend. The president and first lady will also meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday. After Rome, the president will travel to Glasgow for COP26, a UN climate summit.
Last year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, then-president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted trick-or-treating and a smaller party on the South Lawn. The children and families were required to wear masks, but Trump and Melania Trump did not.
Because of the pandemic and the spread of the Delta variant, Biden and Jill Biden haven't held many large gatherings at the White House since taking office in January.
They hosted more than a thousand people on the South Lawn for a July 4 celebration that was meant to mark the country turning the corner from the coronavirus pandemic, but COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations again started shooting up around the country.
More than 190 million people, or 57.5% of the total U.S. population, are fully vaccinated, but the Biden administration is still struggling to get the rest of the population vaccinated.
Just over 22% of the eligible population has not received one dose of a vaccine, and the president has repeatedly pleaded for Americans who have not gotten the shot to do so in order to protect themselves and their loved ones and to help the nation recover from the pandemic.