History of Halloween in the Nation’s Capital

There are various Halloween traditions in Washington, DC. In a city filled with the history of the United States and during the midst of the spooky season, why not learn a bit about the historical Halloween traditions in the nation’s capital!

Halloween at the White House

The White House has a history of Halloween festivities. The first Halloween at the White House was celebrated in 1958. Organized during the Eisenhower Administration, on October 30th, 1958 First Lady Mamie Eisenhower invited the wives of staff members to lunch in the State Dining Room. The room was filled with classic Halloween and fall themed decorations like jack-o-lanterns, corn stalks, apples, pumpkins, autumn flowers, nuts, leaves, and skeletons, witches, black cats, owls, and goblins. Since this first Halloween in the White House, it has been a Halloween tradition to host fun and spooky events at the end of October.

Some of the more recent Halloween events at the White House include a Halloween party in 1989. The Bushes hosted this party on the South Lawn where 600 children gathered and White House stories were shared. During the Clinton Administration, the First Lady’s birthday was on October 26th, so this was often celebrated together with Halloween. The tradition during this administration was to have annual costume parties with friends and staff members. In 2007, the Bushes dressed up their pets in iconic Halloween costumes and had photoshoots with them. During the Obama and Trump administrations, it was tradition to invite trick or treaters to the White House to enjoy candy and the Halloween decorations.

Read more about other presidential Halloween events on the White House Historical Association’s Website here.

Capitol Building Legends

There are various myths and legends about historical buildings in the city. It’s not surprising that the US Capitol Building has a whole slew of mysteries and ghost stories surrounding it. There are five prominent and creepy Capitol legends about the halls of Congress that you can read about here. These legends include a Demon cat that terrorizes Capitol employees in the building at night, a wounded Civil War soldier who wanders through Statuary Hall, John Lenthall, clerk to architect Benjamin Latrobe, who cursed the building with his dying breath, the voice of John Quincy Adams shouting “No!” heard near the Speakers Lobby, and a moaning William Preston Taulbee, who was shot by a reporter for The Louisville Times, heard mumbling in a Capitol stairwell.

Learn More About the History of the City

These legends are all very fun, however we also encourage you to learn more about the nation’s capital and the history of the city by visiting the monuments and memorials as well. Consider joining us on one of our narrated golf cart tours. They are available at various times throughout the day, but the guided night tour may especially peak your interest this spooky season. The night tour allows you to experience DC sights under lights and is available for booking every day at 7:00 PM in the fall. This 2 hour “Twilight Tour” includes sundown, an exceptional display of light and color, and the night, illuminated with powerful, glowing energy. You will see and learn about the historical monuments of Washington, DC, while creating lasting memories on the Capitol Express. The Capitol building lit at night time is one of the most stunning sites in DC. You will enjoy ample opportunities to capture iconic photographs with your family and friends, from one stop to the next. This tour will be the most memorable event of your trip to the nation’s Capital. Book your narrated golf cart tour today!