Thousands of eggstatic children and their families hopped, jumped, and rolled their way across the White House lawn to celebrate the 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme was “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!” More than 30,000 lucky guests enjoyed two hours of non-stop, fun-filled activities, including a hunt for thousands of colorful hard-boiled eggs hidden in the grass for children to find. First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed visitors. “There is something here for everyone,” she said. “I hope that you wore your comfortable shoes!”
In the Eggtivity Zone children ran through an obstacle course, tackled professional football players and crawled through tunnels. “We are here to encourage kids to be fit and to have fun today,” said Pittsburgh Steeler Antwaan Randle El, one of several NFL players taking part in the event. Presidents Council Co-Chair and former Olympian Dominique Dawes was also onsite, cheering on the participants in the obstacle course. “It’s so important for kids to be physically active and to stay fit and healthy,” she said.
Plenty of basketball stars, including the Harlem Globetrotters, were on hand to put hoops fans through their paces. Xavier Nesbitt, 7, was one of those fans. He traveled from Chicago, Illinois, to attend. “I’m most excited about playing on the White House basketball court,” he said. WNBA Most Valuable Player Tamika Catchings shared her thoughts on the day: “This day is all about having fun and we’re glad so many people can be here.”
In addition to the fun and games, families were encouraged to learn about healthy eating. Celebrity chefs demonstrated how to make nutritious and delicious snacks. Did you know that the White House makes it’s own honey? Beekeepers were on hand to share interesting bee facts.
One of the more traditional events at the Easter Egg Roll is the Storytime Stage where authors and celebrities read stories throughout the day. President Barack Obama read aloud from Maurice Sendak’s classic, Where The Wild Things Are, and First Dog Bo barked along with him. At the Rock ‘n’ Egg Roll stage, Sesame Street characters and Cody Simpson entertained the crowd.
On departing the White House, children received a traditional commemorative wooden Easter Egg. What an eggstravaganza!
A Time-Honored Tradition
By TIME For Kids staff
Some historians date Washington’s Easter tradition back to the days when Abraham Lincoln was President, or even before. But the first official White House Easter Egg Roll took place in 1878 under President Rutherford B. Hayes.
Early Egg Rolls took place at the Capitol, rather than at the White House. In 1876, the celebration caused such chaos on the Capitol grounds that Congress passed the Turf Protection Law, prohibiting the area from being used as a playground. The event was soon moved to the White House.
The Easter Egg Roll has been cancelled because of bad weather or in times of war. The longest interruption was for World War II and a renovation of the White House that took place after the war. President Eisenhower reintroduced the Egg Roll in 1953. President Richard Nixon’s wife, Pat Nixon, added the White House Easter Bunny to the tradition beginning in1969. To see additional photos from this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll, and to learn more about the history of this special event, go to whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll.