The White House Easter Egg Roll lottery will open this Thursday, March 16, at 10 AM.
One of the White House’s most cheerful traditions, the Easter Egg Roll will take place this year on April 10. It’s free to sign up for the lottery, and entries must consist of at least one child (12 or under) and one adult. There’s a maximum of six tickets per household, including two adults. The lottery closes March 23 at 3 PM, and winners will be notified by e-mail.
The first formal egg-rolling event—in which eggs are pushed across the lawn using spoons—occurred in 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes welcomed children to enjoy the activity on the grounds. The event followed the Turf Protection Law passed by Congress two years prior, which precluded children from playing around the Capitol after the popular site incurred damage.
The tradition has endured through the years, canceled only a few times due to World Wars I and II, forbidding weather, construction, and the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a widely attended event for more than a hundred years, with the Washington Post reporting in 1921 that the first lady, Florence Harding, “intends to color the eggs herself after the good old-fashioned method of wrapping them in gaily-printed calico.”
The event’s title undersells the breadth of egg-related escapades that have occurred at the White House since the tradition’s inception. According to the White House Historical Association, some of the earlier ceremonies included egg croquet, toss and catch, and “pecking,” in which eggs “are pecked together until they crack.” These games were short-lived, though, due to the smell of broken eggs. Such was also the fate of the first and only Easter egg hunt to use actual eggs, organized by first Lady Patricia Nixon’s staff in the 1970’s. (The problem, of course: Eggs that weren’t found by children during an egg hunt surfaced later, and not in a good way.)
The Reagan White House started using commemorative wooden eggs for the egg hunt in 1981, and the tradition of releasing decorative wooden eggs has remained. The White House has already debuted the official Easter eggs for 2023, which feature signatures of the President and first lady, as well as images of the first pets and the White House. Last year, roughly 30,000 tickets were issued for the event.