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First lady greeted with party, remembrances on South Lawn

A steady drizzle and damp chill didn't keep Hillary Rodham Clinton, who turned 50 Sunday, away from a private birthday party attended by nearly 500 people on the South Lawn of the White House.

The party, in a tent decorated with a different motif to reflect each decade of her life, interrupted what otherwise was a quiet and secluded Sunday for the Clintons.The three-hour party was private and closed to the press.

Those invited "were people from the different times of her life," Marsha Berry, the first lady's press secretary, said. Also there were the president, daughter Chelsea who was home from Stanford University, and Hillary Clinton's mother and two brothers.

Berry said the party had a state fair atmosphere with different parts of the tent decorated to reflect the five different decades of Hillary Clinton's life. In each area were friends and acquaintances from those periods, including people who knew her as a child, in college, in Arkansas and in Washington.

The gathering was a prelude to what's in store for Hillary Clinton beginning Monday: A public, two-day celebration in her hometown of Chicago that includes a speech, a chat with a historian, a birthday bash at the Chicago Cultural Center and a TV appearance with talk show maven Oprah Winfrey.