Credits: 1929, 2000, 2002 › Library of Congress, White House; 2014 › White House Historical Association, Matthew D’Agostino
The primary Easter Monday entertainment at the White House has always involved egg rolling. Participants roll dyed, hard-boiled eggs across the grass to see whose will go the furthest before cracking. Other egg sports enjoyed in the early years were egg ball, toss and catch, egg croquet and egg picking - a contest where eggs are pecked together until they crack. After a few days, the odor of all the eggs broken in these free-form games "could be smelled three square miles away."
In 1929, First Lady Lou Hoover hoped to end the rotten egg stench by introducing folk dancing. Her successor, Eleanor Roosevelt, thought it better to impose a sense of structure to egg-based activities. First Lady Pat Nixon's staff arranged the first - and last - Easter egg hunt with actual eggs. Unfound eggs quickly reminded people of why Mrs. Hoover had favored folk dancing. In 1974, the Nixons hosted the first egg roll races, an event which has become an Easter Monday favorite.