White House Easter Egg Roll on the South lawn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As we’ve lived in the Washington, DC area since 1971, I always intended to take my older son to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
But, I was always working on the Monday after Easter, when it is held, and never could get away.
By the time my younger son came along, I had more flexibility at work, but still, only managed to schedule it one year when I realized it was the last year he was eligible, at the age of 12.
You dedicated the day, because it was first come, first served and they cut off the line at some point.
Now, they have an online lottery for free tickets a month before the event.
You were actually on the White House lawn for about an hour, during which time you were entertained with children’s characters popular that year.
This year’s activities will include cooking demonstrations, sports, games, singing and dancing.
You are let into a grassy area of the lawn that is fenced in so only a few children can go in at a time for the egg hunt.
You get one egg. It is signed by someone famous. Wooden keepsake eggs were introduced by President Reagan in 1981.
And, you get a bag of goodies – candy, coupons, children’s swag – before you are led off the grounds.
At least, this is the way it was the year we went.
Why Would You Go for an Hour and One Egg?
I’m a sucker for tradition.
I love the fact that children have been gathering Easter eggs on the lawn of the White House since 1878.
I love the fact that we live in a country where ordinary citizens can still walk onto the White House grounds and show their children where the President lives.
I have no idea what security is like, post 9/11. I know that most of the streets within a block of the White House are now closed to traffic.
I know Pennsylvania Avenue, America’s Main Street, has been closed to cars since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, a policy made permanent after 9/11. It is a pedestrian and bicycle concourse.
I assume that parents and children go through a security gate on the White House lawn, as we now do for many events on the Mall, like the Fourth of July and the Inauguration.
I knew about the one egg restriction before I went, so I didn’t expect a basketful of eggs.
It simply meant to me that the White House was trying to make sure as many children as possible got an egg. This year, they expect 35,000 children.
They did do a spoon roll of eggs down the hill, but, for some reason we didn’t. It might be restricted to younger children.
What Was the Best Part?
Next to participating in a long-standing, democratic tradition of access to the White House, the next best part was standing in line talking to other mothers and children.
Since lines seem to be a part of children’s lives, I had long spent time gathering games to play in line.
As a grandmother, I now have a section in my purse for such games:
- a length of string to play cat’s cradle
- popsicle sticks to make Ninja stars
- toothpicks for puzzles
- squares of old wrapping paper for Origami.
But, the game I remember from that day was another old favorite.
“I’m thinking of something that is made of … wood.”
My son had gotten really good at this game of figuring out what fits in a category.
By this time, he knew my thinking well enough to know, within a few guesses, if I was thinking of something like … our kitchen cabinets.
Then, it was his turn to think of something in a category, like paper. He told me the category. I had to guess the item.
To each of my guesses, he would only tell me if my guess was in the category or not, until I guessed the actual object he was thinking of.
Recognizing what belongs and what does not belong in a category turns out to be really good practice for the pattern recognition that underlies computer programming, my profession most of my life.
The child I took to the White House Easter Egg Roll spent his first ten years out of college writing the software for a submarine’s digital periscope.
You never know where a couple of hours standing in line might lead.
Do your grandchildren go to an Easter egg hunt?
Do they find all the eggs?
How do you entertain your grandchildren when you are waiting in line?
To you and the magic moments in between times with your grandchildren.
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Carol Covin, Granny-Guru
- “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!”: Easter Egg Roll 2012 (whitehouse.gov)
- Rolling, Rolling, Rolling – Easter Monday Egg Roll (lakevisit.com)
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Have You Ever Gone to the White House Easter Egg Roll?