White House Easter Egg Roll brings 30,000-plus to South Lawn

April 9, 2012

It’s all in the swing.

Some opted for a sturdy golf stance, but others preferred the wobble-and-weave approach.

At the 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, kids scooped, shimmied, scooted and wooden-spooned their colored hard-boiled eggs down the South Lawn to the finish line, where parents waited with cameras and eyes peeled for grass stains on flowery dresses and pressed khakis.

“I try to get as much momentum in it,” said Turner Waters, an 11-year-old from Annapolis who was attending his fourth egg roll.

“I’m not too good at it,” said his brother Jack, 9. “I try to hit it as hard as I can.”

More than 30,000 people received tickets to the event, which included, in addition to the traditional egg roll, yoga, cooking lessons, story time, basketball and tennis tips, and performances by Rachel Crow, Janelle Monae and others.

Costumed characters roamed the grounds, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Cat in the Hat, Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Crow sang the national anthem as kids fidgeted and the Easter Bunny put his hand over his heart. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s made for a warm start to the event, which officially began at 7:30 a.m. and was to run into the evening. Guests, who got tickets through a lottery system, were allowed to spend two hours on the lawn.

“I hope you put on your comfortable shoes,” first lady Michelle Obama said from the South Portico before heading down to the lawn.

The theme of this year’s egg roll, modeled after the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, was “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!”

“My job is very simple,” said President Obama, dressed in a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves. “It is to introduce the powerhouse of the White House.”

“I think the president is going to try to beat a 3-year-old, which I hope he does not,” Michelle Obama said.

The president refrained and instead played referee for a few rounds of the egg roll. He shook parents’ hands and posed for pictures with the kids, reminding everyone to “say cheese.”

Turner, who met Obama at last year’s egg roll, walked up for a handshake.

“Yes, we can,” the boy told the president.

Emery Tomelden, 3, perched atop her father’s shoulders, wanted to play on the White House swing set. But she had to settle for the egg roll and a picture with Elmo.

“Elmo and Barack Obama are pretty exciting,” laughed her mom, Stephanie.

The egg roll dates back to 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes first allowed children onto the South Lawn with their eggs. Informal events, according to the White House, go back to the Lincoln administration, but President Ulysses S. Grant banned the practice on the Capitol grounds in 1876.

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