The sun-drenched south lawn of the White House underwent a playground renovation on Monday morning, as the president and first lady kicked off the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Pastel-dressed families from all 50 states (30,000 visitors in total are expected) milled about the grassy landscape, with the Marine Corps brass band playing nostalgic tunes from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz, before the First Family (including Sasha and Malia, as well as their grandmother Marian Robinson) stepped onto the White House balcony to welcome their guests.
“This year’s theme is ‘Get Up and Go’ because I’m a big proponent of making sure we’re moving and eating healthy,” Mrs. Obama said in brief remarks describing the day’s range of activities—obstacle courses, basketball, tennis, yoga, dance, hula-hooping and football. Other events on tap include healthful cooking demonstrations by chefs Jacques Pepin and Art Smith (Oprah’s former personal chef); story reading by celebrities such as John Lithgow, Geena Davis, and Maria and Gordon of Sesame Street; and a hair-whipping performance by Willow Smith.
Though the annual Easter Egg Roll, which started in 1878 under President Rutherford B. Hayes, has been updated over the years, one perennial attraction is the actual egg rolling. The Root was there to capture President Obama (with the first lady, Sasha and Malia watching on) set off the first race. After questioning a group of wooden spoon-wielding pre-schoolers whether they felt good about their “form,” Obama blew the whistle…and the all-day festivities officially began.
Watch our exclusive footage here.