Hawaii Obama hosts White House luau By Shane Nelson / July 02, 2009 Share 1 -- President Obama hosted the first-ever White House luau June 25 for members of Congress and their families. Held on the South Lawn, this year's Congressional Picnic featured contemporary Hawaiian cuisine prepared by island chef Alan Wong and traditional Polynesian performances by Tihati Productions, the state's largest entertainment company. "I just want to say to all the members of Congress, you've been working hard," the president said during his brief opening remarks. "I wish I could give you all trips to Hawaii, but I figured since, given our budget crunch, we can't do that, that we'd at least bring Hawaii to you." In a statement before the event, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau President and CEO John Monahan welcomed the publicity. "President Obama is bringing the Hawaii family spirit of 'ohana' to the White House and to all Americans through the first White House luau," Monahan said. "We hope our mainland compatriots take this opportunity to learn about the culture and cuisine of our islands, and we welcome all Americans to come share in the aloha spirit that makes Hawaii such a wonderful place for both vacation and business." For video of Obama soaking members of his senior staff in a carnival-style dunking booth, click here.