Armed with strollers and pastel wicker baskets, 30,000 ticket holders from all over the country flooded the White House South Lawn today for the annual Easter Egg Roll. The event featured the traditional egg roll and hunt, celebrity guests, live music, story reading, dancing, sports, food, and an appearance by the First Family.
The festivities kicked off early this year, starting at 7:45 AM. In keeping with the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity, the lawn was dotted with activity stations for basketball, tennis, golf, yoga, and obstacle courses. Athletes such as tennis great Billie Jean King, Washington Redskins players, and Olympic champ Apolo Ohno got in on the sporty fun.
A bubbly Reese Witherspoon read the picture book Weezer Changes the World at the Storytime Stage, where J.K. Rowling and Sesame Street’s Elmo read later in the day. Local culinary celebrities—including Art and Soul’s Art Smith, José Andrés, and Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora—manned the food station. Cheery tunes from live performers such as teenybopper Justin Bieber, songstress Sara Bareilles, and the cast of the Fox hit Glee provided the lively soundtrack. The DC Youth Orchestra and the United States Marine Corps Band delivered kid-friendly classics from Little Mermaid medleys to the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song.
The big-eared guest of honor—we’re talking about the Easter Bunny, of course—made his (her?) grand entrance onto the White House balcony around 11 to a roar of applause, though other costumed characters such as Raggedy Ann and Charlie Brown had been working their way through the crowds all morning. Following shortly after, Sasha, Malia, Michelle, and Barack Obama joined the white rabbit for opening remarks and a jaw-dropping rendition of The Star Spangled Banner by Glee cast member Amber Riley.
“We’ve transformed the South Lawn into a playground,” Mrs. Obama told the crowd. Obama’s mention of Justin Bieber sparked an especially shrill shriek from the under-12 set.
The First Family then made their way to the egg-rolling station, where they helped a group of tots roll colorful eggs past the finish line with big plastic spoons. They also visited with families and posed for photos. On the Storytime Stage, President Obama offered his interpretation of Green Eggs and Ham. Obama managed to squeeze in a few more stops before it was off to throw the first pitch at the Nationals season opener.
>> Check out our slide show of the annual egg roll.