Obama celebrates birthday with star-studded bash

Story highlights

  • Celebrities in attendance included Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and George Lucas
  • The Obama family heads to Martha's Vineyard on Saturday for their annual two-week vacation

Washington/West Tisbury, Mass. (CNN)Usher and Stevie Wonder performed as part of a star-studded 55th birthday celebration for President Barack Obama held at the White House Friday evening, an attendee told CNN.

Other celebrities in attendance included actress Alfre Woodard, movie executive Harvey Weinstein and former basketball star Grant Hill, who was pictured with National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
    Social media captured Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick, "Star Wars" producer George Lucas as well as former senior White House adviser and CNN contributor David Axelrod arriving at the White House. Former basketball star Magic Johnson and his wife posted pictures of them getting ready to head to the event. Several media personalities also attended.
    The White House refused to disclose much information about the party. On Friday, a White House official said First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting the celebration at the White House.
    "The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion," the official said. "The private event will be paid for with the family's personal funds."
    "A real birthday bash with lots of old friends, cabinet officials, members of Congress, celebrities" is how one attendee described it, with the partying said to have gone well past midnight.
    This is not the first celebrity-filled birthday party held by the Obamas at the White House. Beyonce performed at one for Michelle Obama's 50th birthday in 2014.
    The President's actual birthday was Thursday. He had a small celebration dinner with the first lady and his two daughters and then headed off with his family Saturday to Martha's Vineyard for their annual vacation.
    The White House said Obama has no scheduled events for his two-week stay on the Massachusetts island, where the first family has vacationed for almost every year of Obama's presidency (they skipped 2012, when the President was running for re-election).
    Obama and his family stay on a wooded compound in Chilmark, far from the tourist throngs in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Vacationers typically only catch a glimpse of the President and his family when they venture to the island's restaurants for dinner.
    Obama and his daughters used to make a tradition of buying books at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven. But as his girls became teenagers, the practice ended.
    Golf is now Obama's chosen activity on the island. Last year, he played nearly every day at one of Martha's Vineyard's several courses, often with some high-profile partners, including former President Bill Clinton, who himself vacationed here when he served as president.
    Obama has run into Bill and Hillary Clinton for the past two years on Martha's Vineyard, both times at birthday celebrations for longtime Clinton friend Vernon Jordan.