Reports from White House Easter Egg Rolls Past

The annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House has been a regular public event since 1878 and a subject of interest to Americans across the country.


"The White House Lawn"  |  The Washington Post, April 23, 1889

"On the broad portico of the southern entrance stood the president of the United States holding in his arms his grandson Benjamin Harrison McKee, and the little fellow, following the suggestion of his grandsire, waved his hand in recognition of the plaudits which greeted the unusual scene.…Down on the green sward thousands of eager, bright-eyed masters and misses thronged about the music stand upon which, at the suggestion of the president, the Marine Band, under the direction of Professor Sousa, was discoursing selections appropriate to the occasion."


"Egg Rolling on the White House Lawn"  |  The San Francisco Call, April 10, 1898

"All sorts and conditions of children find their way to the president's grounds to enjoy Easter Monday. Some of the children are beautifully dressed in silks and laces and have French nurses to watch over them and carry their eggs for them, while other little ones are dressed in very shabby garments with elbows out and toes peeping from their little shoes."


"Guests of the President"  |  The Washington Post, March 31, 1902

"Of late years the custom of spending Easter Monday on the White House lawns has grown, and each year the crowds in attendance are larger.…The white and the negro leave questions of race domination rest for the day and mingle democratically. Big children and little children, babes in arms, and the young misses who have just dropped their skirts to the ankle, boys in short trousers and insipid youths with down on their lips and a cynical regard for the frivolities of childhood are all there at some time during the day."


"Easter Egg Rolling in the President's Back Yard"  |  The Washington Herald, April 16, 1911

"On the day following Easter the president's back yard not only assumes the normal and rightful function of all backyards as a playground for young people, but it does it in no half-hearted fashion.…Any child is free to come and go at will without any card of admission, and they do come in swarms that cover the greensward and have been estimated at from 10,000 to 30,000 in different years—depending on the weather."


"Old White House Customs Revived"  |  The Washington Post, March 11, 1921

"Old White House customs rich in tradition and pleasing to the people are being revived. Normalcy, as the president says, is returning to the home of presidents. The kiddies of Washington are to be the guests of Mrs. Harding for an egg-rolling party on the south lawn Easter Monday March 23 that is planned to be the jolliest sort of gathering. Mrs. Harding is already busy with the details. She intends to color the eggs herself after the good old-fashioned method of wrapping them in gaily-printed calico."


"30,000 Children Roll Eggs on the White House Lawn"  |  The Washington Post, April 19, 1927

"…The story of how President Coolidge appeared and waved from an upper balcony, or how Mrs. Coolidge with Rebecca, the celebrated raccoon, braved the surging tide of little and big humanity, will be told over and over again.…The crush was too much for Rebecca and she showed her displeasure plainly. But the first lady was not so easily discouraged. She carried the pet indoors and returned to the delight of the crowd."


"50,000 Crowd Mansion Yard To Roll Eggs"  |  The Washington Post, April 3, 1934

"An even 50,000 guests churned the south grounds of the White House into an eight-hour, well-done omelet, breaking all records for Easter egg rolling.…Conditions were almost perfect for the huge turnout and a gay time. It was warm, the sun was bright, eggs were cheap and the hostess, the first lady of the land, was graciousness personified. If the president, now fishing in southern waters, had been there no more could be desired."


"White House Egg Rolling Attendance Slashed by Cold"  |  Syracuse Herald-Journal, March 25, 1940

"The coldest Easter Monday in the records of the Weather Bureau cut early attendance at the traditional White House Easter egg rolling today far below the usual turnout. White House guards said 5,480 children and adults passed through the gates shortly before noon. They expected the day's total would fall far short of the 1937 record of 53,180. 'I hope you all have a happy Easter and that you will have a happy day here,' Mrs. Roosevelt said. 'I hope the children will run around, play, and keep warm.'"


"Easter Eggs to Roll Once More at the White House This Year"  |  The Washington Post, March 8, 1953

"The traditional Washington childrens' custom of Easter egg rolling on the White House lawn will be resumed April 6 after a lapse of 12 years, President Eisenhower decided today.…President Eisenhower personally has explored the potentialities of the White House lawn for the propulsion of rolling objects—he has used it for golf practice from time to time…In 1942 the White House grounds were closed to the event because of the war, and the egg rolling was transferred to the West Grounds of the Capitol where 132,000 turned out. In 1943 the food saving order stopped the event."


"Rain Bogs White House Easter Egg Spectacle"  |  The Phoenix Gazette, April 19, 1965

"Almost 1,000 braved a chill rain today to join in the rolling on the White House south lawn, but it was a dampened spectacle. The youngsters didn't get in much egg rolling. Under umbrellas and wearing rain gear they tromped over the soggy grass, took pictures, looked in vain for President Johnson and members of his family and wondered just what to do.…At its best the annual egg rolling seems to have lost its zest in recent years and today's rain made it far from a gala affair."


"Egg Pushers Have Their Day"  |  Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Virginia, April 12, 1977

"Kids screamed, bands played and parents beamed. Even grandfathers like Jimmy Carter, who hoisted grandson Jason onto his shoulders, enjoyed the White House Easter egg roll Monday.…the President's wife, Rosalynn figured everyone had a good time. The president? "I think he enjoyed it, too," she said while her husband pushed through the crowd shaking hands. Hundreds attended the egg roll on the White House lawn. Parents came with one or two or a dozen kids in tow, to watch their youngsters romp, throw eggs, scuffle, cry, and laugh."


"21,000 Children Take Part in White House Easter Egg Roll"  |  The Pharoe-Tribune, Logansport, Indiana, April 21, 1981

"An estimated 21,000 children participated in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll—and that's not counting Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Big Bird, Quick Draw McGraw, who also stopped by. Monday's event was blessed with good weather and graced by First Lady Nancy Reagan's brief appearance in the midst of the festivities on the South Lawn. While the balloon-waving children frolicked and raced their eggs along the grass, other chatted with cartoon favorites or petted animals brought on the premises."


"White House Lawn Comes Alive During the Rite of Spring"  |  The Selina Journal, April 17, 1990

"Thousands of children frolicked on the White House lawn Monday, hunting wooden eggs and rolling real ones in a rite of spring that converted the presidential estate into a playground. President Bush joined briefly in the fun, blowing a shiny whistle to start an Easter Egg roll in which his 3-year-old granddaughter, Marshall Bush, was entered.…Actually, there were no winners or losers in the 10-yard races. All comers got wooden eggs bearing the names of George and Barbara Bush."


"Kids Scramble Across the White House Lawn at the White House"  |  The Ottawa Herald, Kansas, April 17, 1995

"The festivities opened with a rabbit presenting a jellybean carrot to the president. I want you kids to eat your real carrots, Clinton said. After a countdown by the children Clinton blew a whistle that officially began the egg hunt. There were plenty of treasures to be found. There were 25,000 wooden eggs featuring a silhouette of the White House and the signature of the president and first lady."


"Thousands Attend Egg Roll"  |  Daily News Record, Harrisburg, Virginia, March 25, 2008

"Bundled up against a crisp March morning, thousands of children ran, jumped, crawled, and skipped merrily across the lawn in this year's renewal of a spring rite dating to President Rutherford B. Hayes' administration in 1878. This time around President Bush joined his wife, Laura, his mother Barbara Bush, and daughter, Jenna, in presiding over the festivities. "We're sure glad you are here," Bush shouted from the White House's Blue Room balcony. Later he blew the whistle to start the egg roll races, chuckling at the children's mirth while the first lady applauded their efforts.…The festivities also included an egg hunt, musical performances, reading, magicians, and face painting."


"Obamas Host Their First Egg Roll"  |  The Washington Post, April 14, 2009

"President Obama welcomed thousands of families to the White House on Monday for the first Easter egg roll of his administration, an event with a 131-year tradition that this year is being aimed at promoting healthy, active lifestyles among the nation's youth.…After a rousing rendition of the national anthem by Fergie, Obama officially welcomed the throng to the White House from a balcony overlooking the South Lawn."


RELATED HISTORY  ›


The National Tribune, Washington, D.C. April 19, 1900

»  View entire article › Library of Congress: Chronicling America

The National Tribune, Washington, D.C. April 19, 1900. Library of Congress


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