Events in Review: Presidential Inaugural Balls


The Walter E. Washington Convention Center was honored to host six official star-studded balls during the much-anticipated inauguration of President Barack Obama. Planning for the Obama Home States, Biden Home States, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Western, and first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Balls began immediately after Obama was elected and the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) was formed. The Convention Center staff became increasingly busy during the two months leading up to the big night, as we worked closely with the PIC, the U.S. Secret Service, a variety of federal and local officials and Hargrove, the show decorator, to coordinate logistics. All of the approximately 200 Center employees, along with 1,000 vendors and contractors, were on hand to ensure a fabulous, unforgettable evening for everyone.

There were more than 42,000 revelers who celebrated as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited all six balls at the Center. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden greeted enthusiastic guests at the Biden Home States Ball. Performers at the various balls included Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Alicia Keyes, Marc Anthony, Maroon 5, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Faith Hill and the Motown Revue. A-listers lent some Hollywood glam to the events with stars like Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Queen Latifah, Denzel Washington, Tom and Rita Hanks, Ron Howard, Tyra Banks and Jamie Foxx who celebrated the historic occasion.

Centerplate/NSBE spent 1,800 hours to prepare the menu for the balls. The fare included 8,750 pounds of tortellini, 8,250 pounds of Italian chicken roulade, 6,000 pounds of penne pasta, 850 gallons of tomato cream sauce, 1,000 pounds of carrot sticks, and 10,000 bottles of wine. The supplies and products required 21 tractor trailers for storage. A huge team comprising of 250 bartenders, 150 cashiers, 100 servers, 100 cooks, 150 stewards and porters and 45 Centerplate managers worked tirelessly to make certain that guests’ needs were met.

This event showed the versatility of the building as the only facility in town that can play host to six Presidential Inaugural Balls. We were featured on local, national and international media outlets and publications including Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra TV, E! News Daily, The Washington Post and Washington Business Journal.