Obamas host White House state dinner

May 19, 2010 (WASHINGTON)

The pressure was on to make sure the event went more smoothly than the one remembered mostly for a couple accused of party crashing.

"This has got to be flawless. The best news of this event tonight will be no news out of the event tonight," said Laura Schwartz.

Schwartz worked in the Clinton White House, and that included 12 state dinners. Like most Americans, she remembers the Obamas' first state dinner because of the Salahis, a couple that allegedly crashed the party. She says this time around security is critical.

"After the gate crashers last year, they decided, alright, time to go back to the standard operating procedure of all the other administrations - Republicans and Democrats alike - always having a social office staff member at the point of entry with the Secret Service," said Schwartz.

With those changes, the arrivals kicked off with familiar faces from Illinois like State Sen. Iris Martinez. With the president from Chicago, the city was in the spotlight -- from the food to the guests. Along with Hollywood celebrities, politicians and labor leaders, Illinois newsmakers enjoyed a night at the White House.

"I'm just really honored," said Sen. Martinez.

Victor Perez of Hoy newspaper and Agape Pappas were there as well as gold medalist Shani Davis who brought along his speed skating coach. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his wife who are from downstate were also in attendance.

"It's a diverse guest lists tonight, definitely, lot of Latinos. And as well, you've got to put in the Eva Longoria-Parker, you've got to put in George Lopez. Whoopi Goldberg is on the list. So you always want to add those celebrities for the fun factor," said Schwartz.

And once everyone was seated, President Obama offered a toast, honoring the Mexican president.

"You and the Mexican people have a full and committed partner in the United States," said Obama.

From there, it was dinner, made by Chicago's very own Rick Bayless, who caused a stir by tweeting this week about the big event. After dinner, the entertainment began and lasted into the night.

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