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Congress approved the legislation protecting the public turf and grounds of the U.S. Capitol; egg rolling was among the activities unable to be done on the grounds.
It rained on Easter Monday, so the new law did not have to be enforced.
The first annual White House Easter Egg Roll was held after President Rutherford B. Hayes agreed to open the White House Grounds on Easter Monday to children who wanted to roll Easter eggs.
Young egg rollers marched into the East Room, hoping for a personal audience with President Grover Cleveland. When he came down from his office to greet them, he was charmed.
President Benjamin Harrison added music to the Easter Egg Roll, ordering the United States Marine Band, known as "The President's Own," to play lively tunes while the children romped on the South Lawn. John Philip Sousa, who directed the band, took delight in treating the Egg Roll guests to rousing marches. The president’s grandson Benjamin Harrison “Baby” McKee enjoyed the day with a new child’s cart and toy pony.
President Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson were on hand for what would prove to be the last Easter Egg Roll for five years. The highlight of the day was the appearance of 11-month old Ellen Wilson “Baby” McAdoo, daughter of the president’s daughter Eleanor and her husband, Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo.
The Easter Monday Egg Roll was transferred from the White House Grounds to the grounds of the Washington Monument.
Saying that “nothing that is an article of diet should be destroyed,” District of Columbia food administrator Charles Wilson announced that wartime restrictions on food consumption meant that destruction of eggs as part of the Easter Monday Egg Roll could not be allowed, and that the 1918 Egg Roll was cancelled.
It was reported that the White House Easter Egg Roll with music from the Marine Band would be revived and that First Lady Florence Harding planned to join in the festivities by coloring Easter eggs herself.
The White House Easter Egg Roll was held for the first time since 1916; between 50,000 and 60,000 children attended. President Warren G. Harding, First Lady Florence Harding and presidential pet Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier, were on hand, along with characters from the children’s’ play “Alice and the White Rabbit,” then currently appearing in Washington.
The White House Easter Egg Roll was broadcast on radio for the first time, by station WRC in Washington, D.C. The Marine Band’s music was heard but President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover did not speak. A space in the center of the South Lawn was roped off to allow Girl Scouts to perform a maypole dance at 3:00 p.m., witnessed by Mrs. Hoover.
Maypole dances appeared again, performed by Girl Reserves of the YWCA. President Hoover circulated among the children gathered on the South Lawn, but a bad cold and a wrenched back forced Mrs. Hoover to watch from an upstairs window.
On a rainy Easter Monday the crowd of children and their parents and guardians were greeted by President and Mrs. Hoover and their two grandchildren, Peggy Ann and Herbert “Peter” Hoover III. The Marine Band provided music for a variety of folk dances, such as the Virginia reel and folk dances from Britain and Sweden, performed by the Playground Department of the Washington, D.C. Public Schools and by Girl Reserves from the YWCA.
Wartime restrictions closed the White House Grounds, so the Easter Egg Roll took place on the Capitol’s West Lawn. The White House did not host a Easter Egg Roll during World War II from 1943 to 1945.
Food conservation efforts caused President Harry S. Truman to reluctantly cancel the Easter Egg Roll.
The Truman renovation of the White House made the South Lawn a construction zone, and the Easter Egg Roll was canceled for the duration.
White House Easter Egg Roll was held on the White House grounds for the first time since 1941.
On a wet and chilly Easter Monday, President Dwight Eisenhower appeared at the Egg Roll before a smaller-than-usual crowd; this would be the last presidential appearance at an Easter Egg Roll for 16 years.
The White House announced that the Easter Egg Roll tradition would be continued under the new Kennedy administration.
At the annual Easter Egg Roll the biggest attraction for children on the South Lawn was Caroline Kennedy’s fenced-in playground. White House Guards had to patiently explain to children that Caroline wouldn’t be able to play there today since she was with her family in Palm Beach, Florida.
One of First Lady Pat Nixon's staff members put on a white jumpsuit and Peter Rabbit mask and shook children’s hands along the South Lawn’s circular driveway. The tradition of an official White House Easter Bunny was born.
The Nixons were in Florida, but volunteers dressed as clowns organized the first recorded Egg Roll races, and winning children received a “Nixon” ball point pen. Egg Roll races have become an Easter Monday favorite.
President Gerald R. Ford and First Lady Betty Ford were the first presidential couple to attend the Easter Egg Roll since the Eisenhowers hosted in 1960.
President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan hosted a hunt for wooden eggs that bore the signatures of famous people. Wooden eggs soon became the official White House Easter Egg Roll keepsakes.
President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, accompanied by several of their children and grandchildren and by first pet Millie, presided over the White House Easter Egg Roll. The White House kitchen staff hard-boiled and colored 5,000 real eggs, and 23,000 wooden eggs were used for egg hunts.
Vice President Dan Quayle and wife Marilyn filled in for president and Mrs. Bush. The story-tellers and performers on hand included Babar the Elephant, puppeteer Shari Lewis, Smokey Bear and walking six-foot eggs. All painted wooden eggs were painted yellow to honor military personnel in Iraq and Kuwait.
White House Easter Egg Roll festivities were broadcast live on the internet for the first time.
The White House Easter Egg Roll was closed to the public and replaced with a smaller event for children of active duty and reserve military personnel serving in the Iraq.
For the first time, tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll were distributed online. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were joined by their children Malia and Sasha and Mrs. Obama’s mother Marian Robinson to help with the egg roll races. White House and guest chefs presided over a “kid’s kitchen,” where children were shown how to make healthy snacks.
At the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, President Obama shot basketball hoops with kids and read aloud from Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham.”
Cooking stations, craft spaces and storybook corners were featured at the White House Easter Egg Roll, which included appearances by the President and Mrs. Obama as well as the Easter Bunny, Spider-Man, the Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street” and small yellow Minion creatures from the animated film “Despicable Me.”
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First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.
To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org.
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