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The first annual White House Easter Egg Roll was held on April 22, 1878 after President Rutherford B. Hayes agreed to open the White House grounds on Easter Monday to children who want to roll Easter eggs. In 1885 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, and indoor egg roll receptions became customary.

In April 1889 President Benjamin Harrison added music to the Easter Egg Roll, ordering the United States Marine Band, known as "The President's Own," play lively tunes while the children romped on the South Lawn.

Saying that “nothing that is an article of diet should be destroyed,” District of Columbia food administrator Charles Wilson announced on March 3, 1918 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.

In 1921 the White House Easter Egg Roll with music from the Marine Band was revived; 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. On April 1, 1929 the White House Easter Egg Roll was broadcast on radio for the first time, by station WRC in Washington, D.C.

World War II completely stopped the festivities from 1943 to 1945, then food conservation efforts caused President Harry S. Truman to reluctantly cancel the 1946 and 1947 Easter Egg Rolls. From 1948 to 1952 the Truman renovation of the White House made the South Lawn a construction zone, and the Easter Egg Roll was canceled for the duration.

In April 1969 the tradition of an official White House Easter Bunny was born when 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.

When in 1981 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.

In 1998 White House Easter Egg Roll festivities were broadcast live on the internet for the first time, and in 2009, for the first time, tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll were distributed online.

Children participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll on April 19, 1965.

The White House Historical Association

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