The event, “A Night of Golden Lights,” was part of an annual two-day event called CureFest for Childhood Cancer. The organizers had obtained a permit for the event, but it was shut down “based on standard [Secret Service] protocols prior to protectee movements in the vicinity of the White House Complex.”
The families planned to light electric candles in Obama’s front yard as the White House had refused to light the building in gold, as they have done in support of many other causes.
The park remained closed for hours and many attendees had to leave behind personal items, as they needed to get back to their hotels with their tired children, many of whom are on strict schedules for their cancer treatments and medication.
“We ended up waiting at the gates for two hours, and they never let us in,” Natasha Gould, an 11-year-old from Canada who started a blog after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor this year, told the Washington Post. “And to be clear, the entire crowd was half kids. I cried last night in my hotel room because it was my first CureFest, and I couldn’t believe people were acting like they don’t care about children.”
“The Secret Service would like to express its regret for not communicating more effectively with this group concerning the timeline for protectee movements in the vicinity of Lafayette Park,” Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, told the Washington Post.
The permit for the event was from 7:00 to 9 PM, and by 10:30 the heartbroken group gave up and left.