Michelle Obama, center, and daughters Sasha, left, and Malia, greet the crowd at the Kids' Inaugural: Our Children. Our Future event in Washington Jan. 19. The festivities were part of the 57th Inauguration weekend of events. Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY
Going to an event where Katy Perry, Usher and Far East Movement are performing, jamming out with Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and their kids, and all wrapped up neatly by 9 p.m.? For parents and kids, that's a good post-nap party.
During a weekend filled with people wearing their glittering finest floating from one Champagne party to another, Obama and Biden carved out a little time to pay homage to military members and their families at the Kids Inaugural: Our Children. Our Future. event. Music artists from household names Katy Perry and Usher, to regional treasures Soul Children of Chicago and Black Violin, teamed up at the booze-free event to promote Joining Forces, Michelle Obama's new initiative supporting military members, their spouses and their children.
America's Got Talent host Nick Cannon, aka Mr. Mariah Carey, emceed the event with an assist from Dancing With the Stars winner and war hero J.R. Martinez. While families poured into the convention center, DJ D-Nice spun a steady stream of pop hits from Flo Rida's Sometimes, Maroon 5's Moves like Jagger to Carly Rae Jepsen's infectious Call Me Maybe.
A few grown-ups dressed in uniform, some kids dazzled in sequins and cheerful bright colors, but most concertgoers dressed casually in jeans and sweatshirts. Energy was high and jovial, the only serious faces in the crowd belonged to the Secret Service and some reporters, who were crammed together in the press area in front of the stage.
"Our family is very excited to have the Obamas for another four years. I'm excited to see what he does," says Donna Swanson from St. Paul. "We also thought it was a great opportunity for our daughter (Andrea, 14) to experience an inauguration."
Susan Marcus, a writer from the Asian Reporter in Portland, Ore., was perfectly happy to make the cross-country trek to cover the story. "A group from Portland drove all the way here to perform in Monday's inauguration parade," she says. "I'm really lucky, I also have tickets to the inauguration."
Obama, wearing a white peplum top with a jazzy gold belt over black pants, and her kids, Sasha and Malia, also casually dressed, stepped out on stage with Biden, in a pleasing, eye-popping yellow chartreuse dress, and her brood for a quick wave before the festivities began. After a series of patriotic salutes including the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, the music started.
Usher, clad in a black motorcycle jacket and low-crotch pants a la protégé Justin Bieber, danced his way through hits like Yeah! and Without You. A wildly diverse set of artists followed him to the stage. Glow stick dance group iLuminate from America's Got Talent shed new light on radio favorite, Glad You Came, by U.K. heartthrobs The Wanted. The Asian quintet Far East Movement made their party music, like the tune Live My Life, family friendly. One of Obama's favorites, the sizable singing ensemble Soul Children of Chicago, joined Black Violin for a cover of the Beatles' Come Together.
The Obamas and Bidens weren't the only presidential partygoers. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln were also on hand, albeit in the form of Washington Nationals mascots. Offering comedic relief, the four presidents raced each other; Lincoln won. "I thought they were going to run a little faster," quipped Cannon. "Obama would have beaten all of you."
Video messages from big names were sprinkled throughout the show, with Ryan Seacrest, Kerry Washington, David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres showing their gratitude for military kids as well as Jimmy Fallon, who introduced himself as Harry Styles from One Direction. A dizzying number of Disney TV stars offered their thanks as well, and Biz Markie beatboxed along with the Yo Gabba Gabba crew. Teen favorites Mindless Behavior flirted with the Obama girls, "Sasha and Malia, you look beautiful tonight, and we're looking for Mrs. Right."
Obama spoke from the heart before Perry performed. Being a military kid, "means always thinking about things that are so much bigger than yourself. It means growing up so much faster ... by supporting your families you all are helping us protect our country and keep all of us safe."
By the time Darren Criss, Naya Rivera and Amber Riley from Glee performed, the energy in the crowd had dimmed considerably and some parents were carrying out their exhausted children. Not even pop great Perry or her sexy American flag bathing suit was a match for the almighty Bedtime. Perry still bounced her way through fan favorites Firework, Part of Me, Wide Awake and Teenage Dream.
The Reynolds family from Woodbridge, Va., enjoyed the event. Sean, a petty officer in the U.S. Navy guard, had plenty to look forward to; he's set to march during the Inaugural Parade. Even Aubrey, 2, gnawed happily on her pacifier.
"My favorite part was all of it," their son Kelan said before he took off to run in circles around his parents.
"My favorite part was watching you dance," said mom Heather.
Korina Lopez, USA TODAY