Can a man not throw a 60th birthday bash at his summer home in Martha’s Vineyard with 500 of his closest friends anymore?
For months, Barack Obama had planned to welcome roughly 475 guests—former White House colleagues, Jay Z, Chrissy Teigen, etc—for a birthday party on the island. Then the Delta variant happened, yada yada, and now guests including Larry David and a slew of Obama administration officials have been uninvited from Saturday evening’s bash, which the former president scaled down to close friends and family.
Friends who did make the cut, meanwhile, include Beyoncé and Jay Z, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Stephen Colbert, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, and Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union, per The New York Times, which fastidiously reported on the guest list and various aggrieved un-invitees Friday.
In other words: Barack Obama is living out a painfully relatable COVID birthday nightmare in the least relatable way possible. He’s been forced to axe David Axelrod from his guest list while the Times reports on how former colleagues who “generally credit themselves with helping create” his legacy are feeling hurt that they “were left to track the party via the tabloids.” (The humanity!)
Bloomberg also got a hold of some menu items for the big night, for those who’ve been dying to know about Obama’s preferred vegan meat brands. And The Daily Mail has been obsessively compiling aerial footage of Obama’s front lawn, assiduously documenting preparations for the event as well as the former president’s weekend of golfing, bowling, and going to bed early.
“The former president arrived solo at 7:45, bare-headed and masked, he wore a rain jacket, chinos and Stan Smith shoes,” the tabloid reports of Obama’s wild Friday night at the bowling alley. “The muted thwump of music and bowling balls could be heard long into the night with Obama finally emerging shortly before 11pm.”
Obama’s party has been months in the making. As the Times notes, he even ordered custom baseball caps emblazoned with “44 at 60”—a reference to his tenure as 44th president and his new status as a sexagenarian—and hired a COVID compliance coordinator to ensure the safety of his guests at the outdoor event. The Times also notes that other events planned on Martha’s Vineyard, including an African American film festival, have proceeded this weekend without incident.
But as with any birthday party in the era of COVID, attendance to the president’s birthday party is looking a little all over the place. Some invitees have chosen not to attend the event due to concerns about the Delta variant. (Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay, the Times reports, will both be staying home.) Other guests reportedly did not find out their invitation had been rescinded until they arrived on the island; Alfre Woodard and her husband, writer-producer Roderick Spencer, had apparently been invited to the main party at the Obama house Saturday night, which has since been canceled as part of the scale-back.
“They didn’t hear that it had been canceled until they were getting on the plane from California,” a friend told the Times. “We lucked out and we have them for the weekend now. I think they’re pretty happy, too.”
I guess that’s the thing about having a friend throwing a now-canceled birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard; if you have one friend there willing to play host, you’ve probably got a few more, too. Something tells us everyone involved in this big little soirée is going to be just fine.