WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of kids and their parents swarmed the White House grounds Monday for the annual tradition of rolling Easter eggs across the South Lawn, complete with games, storytelling and a visit from the Easter Bunny.
“I hope everybody is having a great time here,” President Barack Obama said in kicking off Monday’s event. He was joined on a balcony overlooking the sun-drenched South Lawn by his wife, Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson.
Mrs. Obama said it was “pretty amazing” that a record 30,000 people planned to attend. All 50 states and Washington, D.C., were represented, according to the White House.
“We are so excited about this year’s Easter egg roll,” she said. “The theme is ‘Get Up and Go!’ because, as you know, I’m a big proponent of getting up and going, making sure we’re moving and eating healthy and this Easter egg roll reflects all of that.”
Mrs. Obama has traveled around the country stressing healthy eating and exercise as part of a nationwide campaign against childhood obesity.
She urged participants to enjoy all the available activities, including story time, obstacle courses, yoga, dancing, tennis and basketball with professional athletes and, of course, the traditional rolling of pastel-colored hard-boiled eggs across the plush lawn.
With his family and the Easter bunny looking on, Obama blew a whistle to start one of the traditional egg-rolling races.
“Is everybody ready? Everybody feels good about their form?” he asked.
As the race neared an end, one girl was left rolling her egg long after the others. Obama encouraged her, and then helped her flip he egg across the finish line.
“Everybody’s a winner!” he said before delivering a high-five to the boy who won and posing for pictures with them all.
The first family then moved to a story time area where Sasha and Malia took turns reading “Where the Wild Things Are,” followed by Obama and the first lady reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” as Mrs. Robinson and the family dog, Bo, looked on.
The first couple split up to visit different stations on the White House grounds. Obama spent a few minutes at both the basketball and tennis courts. Cheered on by youngsters and former NBA star Darryl Dawkins and current Washington Wizard Nick Young, the president took a pass from Alana Beard of the WNBA Mystics, dribbled through cones, did a behind-the-back dribble and tossed in a layup. It was the only basket Obama attempted. He then watched as a boy tried to follow his example, shouting, “He’s got some moves!”
Mrs. Obama visited the Kid’s Kitchen for a healthy cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Jacques Pépin along with TV personalities Al Roker and Kelly Ripa. “You can eat good food and it tastes good,” she said. Mrs. Obama also shared her love of fresh produce, as youngsters on the lawn munched on apples and pears.
The Easter egg roll dates back to 1878 and President Rutherford B. Hayes.
Tickets to the daylong affair were distributed to five groups. Each group of 6,000 guests was allowed to spend two hours on the South Lawn.
Approximately 14,500 dyed, hard-boiled eggs were used in White House Easter egg roll and egg hunt, according to the first lady’s office.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)