The annual White House Easter Egg Roll is a free and exciting event for kids and their parents. It is also the longest held presidential tradition. It has been a springtime tradition for almost 140 years. It is truly the opportunity of a lifetime! This year President Trump and First Lady Melania will host the 139th annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House South Lawn on April 17th from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thirty-five thousand lucky guests will gather on the South Lawn for games, storytelling, entertainment, and egg rolling. How can you and your family be one of those lucky guests?
The White House Easter Egg Roll is the official name of the White House Easter Egg Hunt. It’s really much more than a hunt with several different stations around the White House lawn. The actual heart of the matter is a roll on the lawn. The children line up and roll a hard-boiled egg down about 10 yards in a race. There’s no prize. It’s just something fun to do.
The White House will open the South Lawn to families for activities such as egg decorating, book readings by celebrities, sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, storytelling and the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. The President and First Lady also traditionally make an appearance to greet the children and wish everyone a happy Easter.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is held each Easter Monday (the Monday immediately following Easter Sunday.) The Egg Roll itself is a race, where children push an egg through the grass with a long-handled spoon. It is harder than it sounds.
According to tradition, Dolley Madison, the wife of President James Madison, began the event in 1814 and hundreds of children brought their decorated eggs to join in the games. The original site was on the grounds of the United States Capitol Building.
Informal egg roll parties at the White House date back to the early Lincoln administration. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes officially opened the White House grounds to local children for egg rolling on Easter Monday. Successive Presidents have continued the tradition of inviting children to the White House Lawn for egg rolling and other activities and entertainment.
During World War I and II, the events were canceled. Dwight D. Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower revived the event in 1953 after a 12-year absence.
In 1969, Pat Nixon’s staff introduced the White House Easter Bunny, a staffer dressed in a white fleece bunny costume who roamed the grounds and welcomed the egg rollers and posed for photographs.
By 1974 the activities evolved into organized egg-rolling races. The 1981 eggstravaganza included assorted clowns and characters, balloon vendors, Broadway show vignettes, a petting zoo, exhibits of antique cars, and an eggxposition of specially decorated eggs (one for each state). Each egg roller received a goody bag filled with a program, toy products supplied by corporate sponsors, and food—whose wrappers littered the lawn. Since 1987 the event’s theme has been inscripted on each egg, and by 1989 George and Barbara Bush added their facsimile signatures.
The National Park Foundation (NPF), the official charity of America’s national parks, produces and sells the commemorative White House Easter eggs. Each child 13 years and younger who attends the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn will also receive a souvenir egg. (You can support the National Park Foundation and get your commemorative Easter eggs here.)
Today, the Easter Egg Roll has grown from a few local children rolling eggs on the White House lawn to become the largest event held at the White House. The exact lottery dates and the link to the official White House Easter Egg Roll lottery page will be published here when it becomes available.
How to get your ticket
Tickets for the event are distributed free of charge via an online lottery system, allowing guests from across the United States to participate. The lottery opens about 6 – 8 weeks before the event. The lottery takes into account family size, geographic area in the country, and the time you request in determining who wins the tickets. There is no charge for the tickets. I have seen tickets for sale on Craigslist but I personally would not purchase them because they’re so easy to counterfeit. (All attendees must have a ticket.)
Tips for securing tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll:
- Mark your calendars!
- Set up a Google alert (such as “White House Easter Egg Roll lottery”) so that you don’t miss it!
- Bookmark this link. The lottery sign-ups are done on National Park Service website recreation.gov.
- You can also check for information at the White House Egg Roll website. This website will be updated whenever new Easter Egg Roll information is released, so be sure to check back often!
- If you want to receive a reminder to enter when the lottery opens, just follow us on any of our social media sites. We’ll be sure to share the lottery entry dates with you! Facebook, Twitter, Google +
Happy Easter and may your 2017 vacations plans include the White House Easter Egg Roll!