I knew what was going to happen on Oct. 26 because my family received a letter from our neighbors, but I was still surprised to see my street blocked off by ten parked police cars as I walked home.
Guests started arriving around four, things got pretty busy with more security moving to their places around five, and by six the guests inside, the neighbors on their front lawns, and the Secret Service men were all anxiously waiting for the First Lady to arrive.
Our neighbors across the street, Mai and James Lassiter, were hosting a party for the Democratic National Committee, featuring special guest of honor Michelle Obama. A tall, intimidating Secret Service agent walked up to me, standing on my front lawn with my camera, and said, “Can you just hang tight when she gets here… and don’t run into the street or anything?” My dad replied, “What does ‘hang tight’ mean?” The Secret Service man just smiled and walked away. Better to protect the First Lady than explain slang terms to my father, I suppose.
Like many of our neighbors, I was excited to check out all the craziness on our street. Seeing fifteen cops on motorcycles down by our front trash cans and stern looks from the men in black was fun, but I was mainly looking forward to catching a glimpse of Michelle Obama herself.
The Lassiter’s niece, Peyton ’12, got to help out at the event and had a true insider’s look. Peyton worked as her aunt’s personal assistant this past summer and was already used to running errands and following orders, all essential to helping her aunt host the First Lady without any glitches.
“Up until she got there, everyone was just eating and lounging. Then it got a little crazy when she was on her way,” Peyton said.
As the countless black Suburbans rolled in, I barely got a glimpse of the First Lady, as she was moved inside the house as quickly as possible. Peyton was fortunate enough to hear her speech on change and see her rock a white, sleeveless gown.
“Her speech was so incredible. I know she’s the First Lady, but she seemed so approachable,” Peyton said.
Although Michelle (Yes, we’re on a first name basis now) was only at the event for an hour, my brief experience with the First Lady and all the behind the scenes work spiced up my usual Tuesday evening. Would I think of getting closer to the Secret Service men? Probably not. Would I dare cross the street and make my way to my neighbor’s front door and the temporary metal detectors? No way. Would I be sitting on my lawn taking notes and pictures for the UV?