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WASHINGTON - It was not your usual night at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, with the White House lit up pumpkin-orange and thousands of little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating the president of the United States.
Barack Obama's first Halloween as president saw him dishing out sweets and pastries baked by his chef to many of the estimated 2000 children - many in elaborate costumes - from 11 area schools, as some of his top staff stepped into frightful or fuzzy character.
First Lady Michelle Obama by his side - playing her part as a purring Cat Woman clad in an orange-and-black leopard print top, fuzzy ears and black eyeshadow - Obama stayed in more presidential character, wearing slacks and a black sweater.
Obama wished several of the children - most aged six to 14 - "Happy Halloween" as he gave out packets of sweets and dried fruit bearing the presidential seal, while one toddler burst out crying when he saw the president.
US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice dressed up as the Disney character Goofy and White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs as Darth Vader from the movie Star Wars .
On the north lawn was a band of musicians in black and white "skeleton" leotards, walking "trees" on stilts, a pair of human butterflies inside giant rolling bubbles and a trio of giant pumpkins, each weighing about 454kg.
Other than a massive black spider hanging from the mansion, the spirit was far more frolicsome than frightful, more treat than trick.
Obama also hosted a few hundred military families and handed out more packets of sweets to children, whom he warned about some of the characters they might encounter in the mansion.
"Some of them are pretty big and scary," he quipped.
After he thanked staffers and children, the first lady chimed in: "They're so cute!"
"They're adorable," Obama said, "as is, by the way, my wife, a very nice-looking Cat Woman." - Sapa-AFP