A history of Halloween at the White House

Halloween came early to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this year.

On Monday, President Trump was joined by first lady Melania to host trick or treaters at the White House for an early holiday celebration -- just a few days before the House is scheduled to vote on the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. 

Halloween has been a fun family-filled tradition hosted by various presidents over the past six decades, since the Eisenhower era. And while the holiday has been particularly central for presidents with young children -- the Kennedys, Obamas, the Carters to name a few -- many of the past presidents put their own spin on the holiday celebrations! 

Keep on reading to see how the White House tradition has evolved over the years.

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A history of Halloween at the White House
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A history of Halloween at the White House
1963: US President John F Kennedy (1917 -1963) sits behind his desk, laughing as his children Caroline and John Jr (1960 -1999), show him their Halloween costumes in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, DC. They wear plastic hats and fright masks. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Vice President Richard M. Nixon addresses a crowd at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, October 29, 1960, while campaigning for president against Sen. John F. Kennedy. Next to him stands 10-year-old Tom Lemke, wearing a Halloween ghost costume that reads "Jack Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance," referring to John F. Kennedy. When Nixon spotted to boy in the crowd, he called attention to the youngster. (AP Photo)
(Original Caption) Mrs. Patricia Nixon, wife of the Vice President, frolics with their daughters, Patricia, 8, and Julia, 6 (right), as the girls prepare for Halloween fun. Mrs. Nixon made the costumes the girls are wearing.
Rosalynn Carter, center, watches as daughter Amy Carter gets her face painted at a Halloween party at the Poe Elementary School, Oct. 30, 1976, Houston, Tex. The woman at right is unidentified. (AP Photo)
First lady Betty Ford greets costumed school children from the Washington area Thursday, Oct. 31, 1974 during a Halloween benefit for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund on the White House South Lawn. Mrs. Ford gave each of the children a bag of trick-or-treat candy, an apple, and reached into her pocket to put a quarter coin into the UNICEF collection boxes they carried. (AP Photo/Henry Griffin)
President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter stand by as daughter Amy and some of her friends carve pumpkins during Amy’s 10th birthday party Wednesday, Oct. 19, 1977 in the White House in Washington. Amy is seated directly in front of the President. (AP Photo)
(Original Caption) President Reagan's only comment 10/31 regarding the upcoming November 2nd elections was carved in a pumpkin, "Stay the Course." The Reagans returned to the White House after a weekend at Camp David.
Barbara Bush (C) entertaining costumed children w. help of colorful crew of clowns, w. secret servicemen lurking, celebrating Halloween on WH grounds. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Pres. & Barbara Bush (C) officiating at WH Halloween fete flanked by Marilyn Quayle (L), daughter-in-law Margaret & granddaughter Marshall (R). (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Barbara Bush (C) & Mrs VP Marilyn Quayle (L) amid colorful crew of clowns, celebrating Halloween on WH grounds. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Pres. & Barbara Bush amid colorful crew of costumed children & entertainers, celebrating Halloween on WH grounds. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Pres. & Barbara Bush (R) officiating at colorful outdoor WH Halloween fete w. Mrs VP Marilyn Quayle (L). (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Mrs VP Marilyn Quayle (C) & Mrs Margaret Bush (R) amid colorful costumed crew, celebrating Halloween on WH grounds. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
Beaming Pres. Bush (C) at GOP campaign event for Rep. Stan Parris (L), out on golf course w. Halloween-costumed & other kids. (Photo by Diana Walker//The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images)
President Bush poses with some local children, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2002, who were visiting the White House dressed up for Halloween. Bush was on his way to South Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia to campaign for local candidates. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama walks around his neighbourhood with his daughter Sasha, 7, dressed up for Halloween, in Chicago ON October 31, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama distribute candies and cookies as they host a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House and Residence staff at the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet trick or treaters at the North Portico of the White House as they celebrate Halloween in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2009. The First couple welcomed more than 2,000 children from Washington, Maryland and Virginia schools and their families to celebrate Halloween. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet trick or treaters at the North Portico of the White House as they celebrate Halloween in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2009. The First couple welcomed more than 2,000 children from Washington, Maryland and Virginia schools and their families to celebrate Halloween. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 31: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hand out Halloween treats to children on the North Portico of the White House on Octtober 31, 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama hugs a trick or treater at the White House October 31, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Obama's greeted children and military families at the North Portico to celebrate Halloween and to trick or treat across the North Lawn. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer treats to trick-or-treaters October 29, 2011 to celebrate Halloween on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 29: U.S. President Barack Obama waits with first lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson to greet trick or treaters at the White House October 29, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted military families and other trick or treaters for a Halloween party. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama give out treats to children on the South Lawn of the White House, October 31, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat for Halloween. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Lois Robinson (L) give out treats to children on the South Lawn of the White House, October 31, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat for Halloween. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hand out treats to local children and children of military families as they trick-or-treat for Halloween on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 31, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama greets trick-or-treaters at the White House in Washington, DC on October 31, 2014. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed local children and children of military families to the White House for a Halloween party. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hand out treats to children during a Halloween event at the White House October 31, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady hosted local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hand out treats to children during a Halloween event at the White House October 31, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama and the first lady hosted local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama laughs as he arrives to hand out treats to children trick-or-treating for Halloween on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet a young child dressed as the Pope and riding in a "Popemobile" as he hands out treats to children trick-or-treating for Halloween on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance along with children performing Michael Jackson'n Thriller in the East Room at the White House during a Halloween event in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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EISENHOWER

First lady Mamie Eisenhower was the first to welcome Halloween into the White House with a private lunch for the wives of staff members in 1958. “She decorated for every holiday," explained White House Historical Historian's William Bushong to the Washingtonian. "Any reason to decorate, and she would decorate.” The first lady pulled out all the stops to get the State Dining Room ready for the holiday by stringing skeletons from the wall lights and scattering yellow jack-o'-lanterns, pumpkins and red apples around the banquet room.

President Kennedy laughs with his children Caroline and John Jr., both dressed in costumes, in the Oval Office of the White House in 1963 (Getty) 

KENNEDY

John Eisenhower was in his 30's during his father's administration, but the arrival of President Kennedy and his young family at the White House in 1961 was followed with bigger, more family-centric holiday celebrations. Sweet photos taken during the administration show a costume-clad John Jr. and young Caroline surprising their father in the Oval Office. The family also started the tradition of hosting trick-or-treaters at private Halloween parties thrown by the White House for friends and the families of staff members. 

Interviews with the Kennedy family also revealed that Jackie had attempted to secretly go trick-or-treating with her children around the neighborhood.

"As much as possible, Jackie wanted her children to have the experience of typical American children. So, one Halloween, she decided that we would dress up and take them trick-or-treating around Washington, D.C.," said JFK's sister Jean Kennedy Smith in an interview many years ago.

"We made it through several houses anonymously until someone spotted the Secret Service and our cover was blown. Still we and, most importantly the children, had a marvelous time."

Second Lady Patricia Nixon and her daughters in homemade Halloween costumes in 1954 (Getty) 

NIXON

During Nixon's term as vice president, his wife Pat strived to ensure their daughters Tricia and Julie's childhoods were met with as much normalcy as possible, and was even spotted dressing both daughters in homemade Halloween costumes in 1954. While traveling across the country for the midterm election in 1958, the couple decorated their chartered plane for the holiday and handed out face masks to stewardesses so the children could continue their celebrations. 

According to White House History, President Nixon and Pat were the first couple to truly open up the White House for Halloween, inviting 250 children and their parents from the Widening Horizons program for a Halloween party in 1969. A 17-foot pumpkin greeted the children at the entrance, as did witches stirring cauldrons, magicians, puppeteers and apple bobbers. Although the first lady was not in attendance due to the flu, she did host trick-or-treaters for the first and only time at Camp David in 1971.

First lady Betty Ford greets costumed school children from the Washington area Thursday, Oct. 31, 1974 during a Halloween benefit for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund on the White House South Lawn. Mrs. Ford gave each of the children a bag of trick-or-treat candy, an apple, and reached into her pocket to put a quarter coin into the UNICEF collection boxes they carried. (AP Photo/Henry Griffin)

President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter stand by as daughter Amy and some of her friends carve pumpkins during Amy’s 10th birthday party Wednesday, Oct. 19, 1977, in the White House in Washington. Amy is seated directly in front of the President. (AP Photo)

CARTER

Carter's daughter, Amy, celebrated her 10th birthday at the White House with a Halloween-themed pumpkin carving party. The 1977 get together, which was joined by her father and the first lady, was also met with birthday cake and a showing of the original version of "Frankenstein" in the White House theater. 

The first couple also hosted a variety of Halloween-themed events during their tenure in the White House. In 1978, they threw a party for 600 White House staffers and their families, which was attended by Broadway star Carol Channing.

President Bush and first lady Barbara at a Halloween celebration in 1989 (Getty) 

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

To mark Bush's first year in the White House, the president and first lady hosted a Halloween party for nearly 600 children on the South Lawn. 

He joked with the kids about the White House's haunted history: "How many of you guys believe in ghosts? How many? You know, they say that there's a ghost in this old house. And the most famous one, you know, is Abraham Lincoln. And Barbara and I haven't seen the ghost of Abraham Lincoln walking the halls, but this is our first Halloween in the White House, so maybe we'll see him tonight." 

CLINTON:

First lady Hillary Clinton's birthday on Oct. 26th was frequently met with a joint Halloween birthday bash by the couple. In 1993, the Clintons dressed up as James and Dolley Madison for the party. According to Bushong, the couple also dressed up as characters from "Grease."

“I think just from the photographs you get a sense that they really enjoyed that sort of thing,” he said.

President Bush poses with some local children, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2002, who were visiting the White House dressed up for Halloween. Bush was on his way to South Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia to campaign for local candidates. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

GEORGE W. BUSH 

The president is best known for dressing up their pets Miss Beazley, Barney, and India in costumes for both Halloween and Christmas.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet parents, trick-or-treaters and local school children at the north portico of the White House during a Halloween celebration on October 31, 2009 in Washington, DC. The Obamas are celebrating their first Halloween in the White House by inviting students and military families over for the holiday. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images)

OBAMA

The Obamas were known for their elaborately themed Halloween parties that they threw for both children and military families alike. It was estimated that more than 2,600 children had attended their 2009 party, where they were greeted by the smiling first couple and treated to "Alice in Wonderland" themed food. First lady Michelle Obama dressed as a cat for the occasion, but in the subsequent years, opted for orange-themed looks. 

Although the 2012 Halloween celebrations were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, the Obamas made up for it by releasing what is still one of the most iconic photos from his administration. 
US President Donald Trump meets with children of members of the press for Halloween in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 27, 2017.  (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

TRUMP: 

For President Trump's first year in office, he kicked off the holiday by hosting reporters' children in the Oval Offic with candy. Three days later, he and Melania welcomed trick-or-treaters to the White House South Lawn for another celebration. 

The first couple spent 40 minutes greeting children dressed as cowboys, unicorns and Winnie the Poo for their 2019 event, which was held early to accommodate the impeachment inquiry vote. The biggest moment of the night involved a viral moment shared between a child dressed as a minion and Trump, who placed the child's candy bar on his head. 

See more of this year's celebrations in the White House in the video above.

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The Trumps celebrate Halloween 2019
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The Trumps celebrate Halloween 2019
US President and First Lady Melania Trump arrive to hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to trick-or-treaters during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Decorations are seen during a Halloween at the White House event October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Decorations are seen during a Halloween at the White House event October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump attend a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump pose with children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hand out candy to children as they trick-or-treat during a Halloween at the White House event at the South Portico of the White House October 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Halloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US President and First Lady Melania Trump hand out candy for children at a Haloween celebration at the White House in Washington, DC, on October 28, 2019. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
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