The plans were hatched, the eggs were boiled. It’s time for the 140th White House Easter Egg Roll, taking place Monday on the South Lawn.
Orchestrated by the East Wing, the festivities are Melania Trump’s second crack at the Egg Roll as first lady and her first as a full-time White House resident. Last year, Trump, who was living in New York through the completion of the school year, oversaw the event, which marked a scaling-down and return to basics for the annual eggstravaganza. But this year’s Egg Roll will showcase a first lady who has more fully embraced the role of White House hostess, just weeks before the White House holds its first formal state visit with France.
This year’s Egg Roll will feature activity stations, including the first lady’s new addition of lawn bowling, as well as the egg rolling, egg and cookie decorating stations, a state egg display, cards for troops and costumed characters. The White House is expecting nearly 30,000 attendees at the event, which will feature entertainment from the US Marine, Army, Air Force and Navy Bands. Readers at the reading nook will include the first lady, director of national intelligence Dan Coats, Secretaries Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos, and director of legislative affairs Marc Short.
The egg rolling tradition began in the 1870s on Capitol grounds. After a particularly rotten 1876 roll in which eyewitness John C. Rathbone observed “the wanton destruction of the grass on the terraces of the park,” President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation to protect Capitol grounds, which prohibited egg rolling, per the National Archives.
But in 1878, a more egg-friendly President Rutherford B. Hayes allowed children to roll their eggs on the White House South Lawn.
According to an article in that evening’s edition of the Evening Star, per the National Archives, the children were quite pleased with their new egg rolling headquarters: “Driven out of the Capitol grounds, the children advanced on the White House grounds to-day and rolled eggs down the terraces back of the Mansion, and played among the shrubbery to their heart’s content.”
Now, 140 years later the tradition continues, this year as a collaboration between the White House, the White House Historical Association, and the National Park Service.
It’s always been a big production for the first lady’s office.
Florence Harding dyed the eggs herself in 1921, The Washington Post reported.
In 1927, the Post reported that Grace Coolidge brought her pet raccoon, Rebecca, out on the grounds on a leash, much to the raccoon’s chagrin.