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Deck the Halls and Welcome All

Ground Floor Corridor

You know Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen — Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. And surely you recall the most famous reindeer of all! An ivy topiary Rudolph, complete with red nose, prances beneath the portrait of former First Lady Hillary Clinton. His fellow reindeer line the Ground Floor Corridor. Further down the hall, they have three volunteers eager to help pull Santa's sleigh: First Cat Willie, and President and Mrs. Bush's Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley.

Topiary RudolphSanta's sleigh won't stop, though, unless children are snug in their beds. On a December night in 1903, hundreds of children may have missed Santa Claus — because they were cavorting at the White House instead. That year, President Theodore Roosevelt's brood threw a Christmas bash for 550 Washington children — a party that was promised to last three hours. The guests' first hour was filled with a concert, music, and dancing in the East Room; during the second, President and Mrs. Roosevelt marched the children to the State Dining Room for treats and punch.

Once the youngsters were filled up with sweets, the adults realized the party still had an hour to go — but there were no planned activities left. So while their mothers were whisked away to the parlors, hundreds of children were unleashed on the East Room, allowed to make merry to their hearts' content.

The children's maids and nannies spent the party down here in the tranquility of the Ground Floor — surely thrilled to take refuge from the "revelry" upstairs.