Happy Easter! The White House submitted a press release on Friday announcing its impressively full talent program for the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll. The Easter Egg Roll is a delightful White House tradition for families that allegedly dates back to 1814. According to the National First Ladies’ Library, “undocumented legend has it” that the White House Easter Egg Roll was started by First Lady Dolley Madison.
The White House Easter Egg Roll has resulted in many memorable photos over many decades, from First Lady Grace Coolidge showing off her pet raccoon to the crowd in 1927, to President Barack Obama enthusiastically acting out Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are in 2015, and being hilariously interrupted by bees. Families enter a lottery to score tickets to participate in a happy Easter at the White House, as the demand is predictably high. Tickets are free of charge.
The White House Easter Egg Roll, a happy occasion that occurs annually each Easter Monday (a federal holiday in the British Commonwealth and many other countries, but not in the United States) on the White House’s South Lawn, boasts a roster of talent this year that includes Broadway legend Idina Menzel as the special guest. Menzel will be performing the national anthem, in addition to another performance on the amusingly titled “Rock ‘n’ Egg Roll Stage.”
The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll also includes a Storytime Stage, therefore a happy Easter with the First Family this year will also include celebrity story readers: Bear Grylls, Robin Roberts, Shaquille O’Neal, the cast of the hit ABC sitcom black-ish, and Shonda Rhimes, creator of the successful ABC prime time dramas Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder.
The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll will also feature a “Play with your Food” station, highlighting the work of famous chefs José Andrés, Spike Mendelsohn, Pati Jinich, and Kwame Onwuachi, as well as cookbook author and television personality Ted Allen.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is a race, with children divided into lanes on the White House’s South Lawn, as if on a running track. The children then roll dyed Easter eggs to the finish line with long-handled spoons, with President Barack Obama and his family cheering them on. The First Daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama, are consistent good sports about the lighter holiday traditions and festivities that come as part of the First Family package. They have been reliable participants in the White House Easter Egg Roll fun and games, as well as the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning and the ever-popular White House Christmas Tree Lighting and accompanying winter concert.
In 1921 President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence Harding revived the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. pic.twitter.com/TCq5hwNa3z— White House History (@WhiteHouseHstry) March 25, 2016
Children holding hands at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 1898 by Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston pic.twitter.com/uTNZtQSP2R— Greg Whitmore (@G_Whizzz) March 25, 2016
Mrs. Nancy Reagan with two furry friends encouraging kids at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House April '81 pic.twitter.com/a1BIJfl426— RonaldReaganLibrary (@Reagan_Library) March 25, 2016
The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll has a theme of “Let’s Celebrate!” The theme for this year’s festivities is designed, as has been an Obama family tradition since their first White House Easter Egg Roll in April 2009, to celebrate the goals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to encourage American children to exercise and to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. In keeping with this idea, the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll will feature the very first White House Fun Run.
It will be a very happy Easter for the family of 10-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, the founder and CEO of BeeSweet Lemonade. Mikaila Ulmer and her family brew flaxseed lemonade and sell locally-sourced honey in attempts to draw attention to and mitigate the diminished honeybee population. Ulmer received an investment for her company on Shark Tank, also an ABC production, and will be a featured guest on Monday at the Easter Egg Roll after already having been invited to tour the White House bee hives.
The White House is expecting 35,000 attendees at the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll on Easter Monday, which is March 28. Each child who attends will receive one of five souvenir eggs produced by the National Park Foundation and designed by graphic designer Joy Cho. The souvenir eggs will be stamped with the signatures of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and one gold “Bo and Sunny” egg will be stamped with the paw prints of the First Dogs.
[Image courtesy of Mark Wilson/Getty Images]