Eggs Roll on the White House Lawn

Getty Images
Getty Images

Thirty-thousand kids and parents attended the Obama White House's second annual Easter Egg Roll during a beautiful spring day in Washington Monday. The president and first lady, along with their daughters, Malia and Sasha, and first grandmother, Marian Robinson, greeted the crowds from the south portico of the White House, overlooking a stretch of lawn "transformed … into a playground" for the day, said Michelle Obama. "Our hope today is that in addition to having fun and doing some of the traditional activities like the egg roll and the Easter egg hunt, that you can learn about beginning to live a more healthy life," she added.


The White House, under the direction of new social secretary Julianna Smoot, who replaced Desiree Rogers in late March, managed the crowds and invited several celebrities to help with the celebration. Actress Reese Witherspoon and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling were on hand to read to the guests, and musicians Justin Bieber and the cast of Fox's high school musical television hit Glee sang and danced on stage. Players from NFL and MLB, as well as Olympians like Apolo Ohno also joined the festivities.

The Obamas celebrated Easter Sunday at predominantly black Allen Chapel, an African Methodist Episcopal church, in Southeast Washington's Ward 8.

After the first family's remarks at the White House, singer Amber Riley, who plays the character "Mercedes" on Glee belted the national anthem, and then the games were on.

The first daughters gamely cheered as children half their age tried the traditional White House "Easter egg roll," a race in which hard-boiled eggs are turned with wooden spoons toward a finish line. Before reading to kids at the "Storytime Stage" and shooting hoops for a moment, the president blew the whistle for an egg race for which he played favorites: His 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, who recently rejoined the White House team as a political adviser, brought his baby daughter—born the day after Obama's historic election victory.

The East Wing put more of an emphasis on fitness and nutrition in this year's event, primarily because of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" healthy eating and exercise campaign. Local celebrity chefs Art Smith, José Andrés and others manned the "Play With Your Food" station, where thousands of kids and parents sampled healthy snacks. "There's a lot more this year," says White House chef and Kitchen Garden director Sam Kass. "There's a farmer's market, fresh food; people are handing out seeds for folks to take home." The "Hop To It" station, also new this year, featured hula-hooping and jump-rope activities to reinforce the first lady's message of getting exercise every day.

The first lady, "the smartest and best-looking of the older Obamas," said the president, introducing his wife, seemed happy to get the kiddies' heart rates up by any means necessary. "You guys know Justin Bieber?" she asked, to wild screams from the tween set. "You've heard of Justin Bieber? Well, he's here."


Dayo Olopade is Washington reporter for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.