Remaining Open to the People

Ronald Reagan Christmas card, 1987

Presidents create events that encourage people to feel they have access to the leader of a democratic society. Thomas Jefferson opened the lawn around the White House on the Fourth of July. In the 1840s, musical concerts gained popularity, attracting large crowds in subsequent years. First families have hosted public celebrations that include Easter egg rolls, Christmas tree lightings, receptions, and picnics.

These events symbolize the unique relationship between our chief elected official and the voters he serves. No president can afford to appear aloof or distant from the public, although the need for tight security makes direct contact a challenge.

Handmade ornament used on Gerald and Betty Ford's 1975 White House Christmas tree. Brochures with instructions for making some of the different ornaments for that year were available to the public.
Wooden Easter eggs from White House Easter egg rolls, 1980s
Lent by Daniel, Katie, and Sarah Chew
Maypole celebration during Herbert Hoover's administration
Courtesy of Library of Congress
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey greeting tourists through the White House fence, 1965.
Courtesy of Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
Gerald and Betty Ford in front of the tree at the Christmas ball for members of Congress, 1974.
Courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Library