The White House Easter egg roll is as American as apple pie! But do you know the history?
In the 1800s, the rolling lawns of the U.S. Capitol were an irresistible target for kids on Easter Monday. One of the few days off for kids and adults, Easter Monday also included lots of leftover hard-boiled eggs!
The Capitol soon became the site of egg rolls, in which children would compete to see whose egg could roll farther without breaking. It has also been suggested informal egg-rolling parties may have begun under Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. By the 1870s, Easter Monday egg rolling on the West grounds of the White house had become hugely popular.
In 1876, 10,000 children showed up to roll eggs! According to history.com, the spectacle was so noisy that no business could be done in the House and Senate chambers. By the end of the day, the lawns were in ruin. Outraged Congressmen immediately wrote legislation protecting the Capitol turf. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill banning the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds two weeks later.
showdown was avoided the next year when rain discouraged the annual invasion of
However, on April 22, 1878, even though police had discouraged children from entering the White House grounds, President Rutherford B. Hays came to the rescue and welcomed players to the White House backyard. That was the first official White House Easter Egg roll.
In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison added music from the United States Marine Band to the festivities.
During those more innocent years, families picnicked on the lawns while the kids rolled eggs, leaving behind dead grass, trash, broken egg shells, and many hidden and increasingly smelly eggs!
By 1937, the annual crowd had grown to 50,000 inadequately accommodated people on the South Lawn.
Egg rolling at the White House was interrupted by World War I, from 1917 to 1920 and World War II, from 1943 to 1945.
From 1946 to 1952, food conservation and construction on the White house prevented White House Easter egg rolling celebrations.
The White House Easter egg roll resumed after post-war rationing ended and began to assume its modern, and much more controlled form with an egg roll for little children and various activities.
In 1953, President Dwight D Eisenhower reinstated the tradition.
An interesting note: In 1981, an idea put forth by First Lady Nancy Reagan began the tradition of giving everyone leaving the event a signed wooden Easter egg as a cherished keepsake.
Today, the White House holds a lottery to distribute 35,000 tickets for the Egg Roll. Those who win a ticket must get ready for hours of lines and a fairly short experience on the White House lawn, but it comes with a very memorable family photo!
On April 2, 2018, the 140th white House Easter Egg Roll was hosted by First Lady Melania Trump.
WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL FOR 2019
The Easter Egg Roll for 2019 will take place on Monday, April 22, 2019, on the South Lawn of the White House with President and Mrs. Trump officiating.
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