Look out, Easter Bunny. You may be next.
President Trump hasn’t embraced many of Washington’s traditions. No Alfalfa Club dinner; no White House Correspondents’ Association dinner; no active first lady; no visits to D.C. schools, businesses or restaurants (except the one in his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue); no trips to Camp David; and very few weekends even spent in Washington.
And the largest annual public event at the White House — the Easter Egg Roll — is still a big mystery.
The logistics that go into security, crowd control, activities and invitations for something this size are insane. Last year, 35,000 parents and children attended. Yet, no one has heard that any of the work is being done on this year’s event with only seven weeks to go.
A website that is not associated with the White House but is obsessed with the Easter Egg roll posted that the roll is set to be held on April 17 and promised that details will soon follow. But go to the official White House website and you get “no results” when you ask about anything Easter-related. And my efforts to reach anyone at the White House about it were unsuccessful.
Parents here in the nation’s capital and around the country keep checking. It’s kinda like waiting to get concert tickets. Only no one’s sure there’s going to even be a concert.
And this is driving parents crazy. February is the season for summer camp planning and entering the Easter Egg Roll lottery. Doesn’t the White House know this? The Trumps have a 10-year-old, after all.
One hopeful sign: A 2017 commemorative White House Easter egg — a rose-gold filigree confection that is sold at the White House gift shop for $125 — is available online . (Order now! Marked down from $155! Only 1,000 made!)
But the folksy wooden eggs made in Maine and given to all the children who play on the White House lawn on Easter Monday — so far, those aren’t happening.
“FYI manufacturing deadlines for the Easter eggs are near. Please reach out!” Wells Wood Turning, the Maine company that has made the wooden eggs for the past five years, tweeted last week, tagging POTUS, FLOTUS and daughter Ivanka Trump.
Held since 1878, the tradition of opening the White House lawn to neighborhood children on Easter Monday offers a chance for the president and his family to present a fun face to the public.
And it basically started because Washington children were annoying the city’s adults.
Back in the 1870s, the hottest trend among Victorian kids was egg rolling. It was the bottle flipping or mannequin challenge of that era. And the Capitol grounds were ground zero for the craze, where the lawn was ravaged from the little urchins’ relentless rolling. So Congress passed a law in 1877 to ban it.
But rollers gotta roll. And the coolest rollers ran up to President Rutherford B. Hayes while he was taking his morning stroll one day — yes, instead of Twitter, a president could commune with the commoners by just walking outside — and asked if they could roll on his lawn, because Congress had kicked them out.
After asking them to explain this kooky trend, he told them to come on over, totally throwing shade at Congress. And a tradition was born.
Except during wars or really bad weather, the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have opened every year to Washington’s children. For many decades, it was mainly the city’s white children. In 1953, first lady Mamie Eisenhower saw black children peering in from outside the White House gates and insisted that their families come inside, too.
The event grew larger and larger. It was always a given that families of the administration and connected Washingtonians got in. But eventually, the White House started handing out free tickets to the general public to control the crowds.
The lines for those tickets formed earlier and earlier — dawn, pre-dawn, midnight, early evening. The line started at 5 p.m. during the last Easter Egg Roll in the George W. Bush White House.
The Obama administration killed the campouts and created a lottery system that parents could enter in February. The drawing was quick, and it gave families throughout the country a chance to come — and enough time to plan a trip — to the White House and the iconic event. And a ton of free tickets also went to D.C. schoolkids.
In addition to the egg rolling, the event included crafts, games, celebrity book readings (my kids got to see Shaquille O’Neal read “Green Eggs and Ham”), and characters from PBS, including the “Dinosaur Train” beasts, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Sid the Science Kid.
But so far this year? Clifford is still waiting in his big dog house.
Maria Vera Whelan, director of marketing and communications for PBS Kids, said in an email that the network has yet to hear from the White House. And maybe they won’t. Funding for PBS is in the administration’s crosshairs. Plus, the network is full of bad hombres.
Take that Sid the Science Kid.
The purple-haired, orange cartoon is now under investigation by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Voters in his district chanted, “Do your job!” at Chaffetz at a recent town hall after he neglected to scrutinize Trump’s ties to Russia, but the congressman launched an investigation into a grant the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave to Sid for an episode on the Zika virus.
I doubt that Sid is keeping his Easter calendar open.
Even so, this White House knows from bunnies.
There was the time Sean Spicer wore the bunny costume for George W. Bush’s egg roll, the numerous times Trump posed with Playboy bunnies, or the time a pregnant Ivanka Trump posed in a Playboy bunny costume for Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
I’ll give the president a pass on the insidery Alfalfa Club gathering and the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which has become a creepy spectacle anyway. I’ll even let him slide on Camp David, despite all the history that has been made at the rustic retreat in the Maryland mountains.
But there is only one time a year that the kids of Washington — and the nation — get to frolic on the front lawn of the country’s most famous home, the one we all pay taxes to keep green.
Don’t be the Easter Grinch, Mr. President. Let the children roll.
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