White House Easter egg roll drawing a huge crowd after storm-delayed start


WASHINGTON — Thunder and lightning delayed the start of the Easter egg roll at the White House for 90 minutes on Monday, but the event eventually kicked off under gray skies with many youngsters wearing ponchos or colorful jackets against light rain.

More than 40,000 people — 10,000 more than last year — were expected to participate in the event, attempting to coax hard-boiled eggs across the lawn to a finish line. This year’s theme is “EGG-ucation,” and led by Jill Biden, a teacher for more than 30 years.

The egg roll is an annual tradition first held in 1878, and various stations on the South Lawn and Ellipse were meant to help children learn about farming, healthier eating, exercise and more.

Among those participating with the children was Harry Dunn, a former police officer who defended the U.S. Capitol against rioters on Jan. 6 and is now running for Congress in Maryland. Texas Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, now a Senate candidate, high fived kids after their rolls.

A large schoolhouse erected on the South Lawn, offered kids activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM — including making circuit-breakers or simulating a fossil dig. The kids will also had the opportunity to write notes to U.S. troops and first responders with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization.

“As you can see, there’s something for everybody here,” Jill Biden said during an interview with NBC’s “Today” to discuss the event. “We have science projects, physics class — you can learn about the solar eclipse that’s coming. We have a reading nook, we have dinosaurs.”

The president mentioned in the same interview that this year’s edition might be the largest White House egg roll ever. He said the family put dollar bills in some plastic easter eggs and had its own hunt to mark Easter Sunday. “We’re still missing one,” joked the first lady.

President Joe Biden drew criticism from top conservatives, and the campaign of former President Donald Trump, who is now running to reclaim the White House, by proclaiming March 31 as “Transgender Day of Visibility ″ on a year when Easter also fell on the day.

Biden didn’t mention that criticism, instead saying of Monday’s event, “This is the people’s house.”

“We just like to open it up,” he said of the White House “and let people see this is their place. And it always makes me feel good to look out there and see, just average Americans, walking around and looking at what’s going around ’cause they own it.”

Biden was asked about his final campaign as he seeks his second term and said, “I just think people are so tired of the negativity that is propagated that they just want to get engaged.”

“They want to change things,” he said.

The first lady added that she’d been traveling the country campaigning and that “people are ready to go, and we’re going to win this.”

Egg roll guests included thousands of military and veteran families, their caregivers and survivors. Members of the general public claimed tickets through an online lottery and were being admitted in nine waves until the evening.

The first lady still teaches English and writing at a northern Virginia community college. She and President Biden did not host the egg roll during the first year of his administration in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it resumed the last two years.

The event dates to the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, who opened the White House lawn to children after they were kicked off the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.


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