White House Easter Egg Roll Information
On Monday, March 31, the traditional Easter Egg Roll takes place on the White House South Lawn from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Egg Roll and Egg Hunt are for children between the ages of three and six, accompanied by at least one adult. Other family members are permitted, as long as one person is age three to six. This is a public event, and no invitations are issued.
Free, timed tickets are distributed by the National Park Service on a first-come, first-served basis. Each person, even the smallest child, requires a ticket to enter the South Lawn. Ticket distribution begins about 7:00 a.m. at the Visitor Pavilion on the Ellipse (the park area south of the White House), and continues until all tickets are gone. One person can request up to four tickets (new this year). No advance tickets are available. It should not be necessary to spend much time in line. Food, chewing gum, coolers, or lawn chairs are not permitted on the South Lawn.
Theme and Activities
The 1997 theme of the event is Learning is Delightful & Delicious (L.I.D.D.). Each stage is designed to convey these ideas. The Off to a Good Start area on the Ellipse provides ticket holders with a free, nutritional breakfast. Stage performers and roving characters will entertain. Areas designed to offer interactive arts and crafts offer additional fun. This is also a great opportunity to have photos with some of the many costumed characters.
The Learning Means the World to Me stage offers a series of interactive programs for young children. Puzzle Place, Bananas In Pajamas, and Cathy & Marcy are a few of the featured acts. The Smart Kids on a Roll stage features the Broadway Kids (kids who have performed on Broadway), Trout Fishing in America, and Parachute Express. Learning Adventures CD-ROM Theater features Barney Broccoli and Bobby Banana who, with the help of computer technology, present a show based on the importance of "5 A Day" nutrition. The Spring into Learning stage offers high-energy fashion shows, the Paper Moon kids from the national company of Paper Moon, and the Story Time TV characters. The Imagine the Possibilities story-telling stage is hosted by Mr. Hatbox, Elizabeth Belle MacDonald, and a troupe of actors and performers.
Always popular egg dying and decorating are available again. The Great Train Store creates a fantasy Easter village and K'Nex Toys displays giant models of historic U.S. monuments. The Giant Nest, for kids to climb into, is built on the lawn.
To accommodate the festivities on Easter Monday, E Street is closed between 15th and 17th Streets. On-street parking is not available near the White House and use of public transportation is strongly encouraged. The recommended Metrorail stations are Metro Center (blue, orange, and red lines), and Federal Triangle (blue and orange lines).
In case of inclement weather, all events are canceled and not rescheduled.
The Annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House is a wonderful tradition which The President and Mrs. Clinton hope all families will enjoy. For the most up-to-date information on this, or other public events at the White House, please call the Visitors Office 24-hour info line at 202-456-7041.
Find out how to obtain a 1997 White House Easter Egg!
The original site of the Easter Egg Roll was the grounds of the United States Capitol. The event began during the Presidency of James Madison (1809-1817) at the suggestion of his wife, Dolley Madison. Mrs. Madison was fascinated to learn that Egyptian children rolled colored eggs on the site of the Pyramids. She thought the children of the Washington area would enjoy this enchanting activity.
In 1877, under orders from members of Congress, Capitol policemen required the children to leave the grounds. Some Congressmen, tired of slipping and sliding on the remains of boiled eggs, felt the grounds should no longer be torn up in such a way. Some sources tell us that one irritated nursemaid, followed by several of her charges, stormed down to the White House where she demanded access to the White House grounds for egg rolling. Others claim that President Rutherford B. Hayes, riding by the Capitol grounds in his carriage, saw the tearful children and invited them to the White House for their egg roll.
In 1878 President Hayes and his wife Lucy officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for egg rolling on Easter Monday. The event has been held on the South Lawn ever since, except during World War I and World War II. During the war years the Easter Egg Roll was held at the National Zoo, and other Washington locations.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is eagerly awaited each year by thousands of children. It is always held on the Monday after Easter, on the South Lawn of the White House. Children hunt for brightly colored wooden signature eggs hidden in hay. Many of these eggs have been signed by famous people, including the athletes, astronauts, musicians, and celebrities from film, television, and theatre who visit the White House during the year. Of course, the real treasures are the eggs personally signed by the President and First Lady (as well as Socks)!
By the late 1800s such games as "Egg Picking," "Egg Ball," "Toss and Catch," and "Egg Croquet" were popular Easter Monday activities. The children attending the event take part in many newer activities, but rolling a hard-boiled egg across the lawn is still a highlight of the day.