White House Easter Egg Roll

Reading, fitness, celebrities, and eggs!

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Fitness, reading, celebrities, and eggs! All were part of the annual White House Easter Egg roll, which featured a rare appearance by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

About 30,000 participants rocked the South Lawn with cheers on Monday—by far the largest gathering for the tradition in history. A loudspeaker quieted everyone down with the announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, please welcome a special guest of the 2010 White House Easter egg Roll!"

Out came the Easter Bunny to a brief moment of silence, then applause. Everyone expected the President, not the Easter Bunny!

Finally the loudspeaker boomed again. "And now, welcome the President of the United States, Barack Obama, First Lady, Michelle Obama, and the First Family!"

The Obamas, including daughters Malia and Sasha and their grandmother Marian Robinson, came through the doors of the White House while people cheered and a band played the national anthem. Along with dog Bo, the First Family stepped down a long, curved staircase that led to South Lawn and numerous activity stations.

jk rowling at the 2010 white house easter egg roll
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling made a rare appearance at the 2010 White House Easter Egg roll, reading from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and taking questions from kids. (Photo courtesy the White House)

The First Family shook hands, thanking everyone for joining the fun of making the South Lawn a playground for a day. Activities began at the egg roll station where the President blew the whistle to start the race. Members of the First Family helped out the youngest participants who got stuck.

The Easter Egg Roll is a White House tradition dating back to 1878. Before then, it was held on the Capitol grounds, but Congress banned it because it tore up the grass. According to tradition, President Rutherford B. Hayes was riding past the Capitol in a carriage on Easter Monday when he saw tearful children upset that there would be no egg roll that year. He invited them to play on the White House lawn.

By 1899, the White House Easter Egg Roll had become a popular event, with about 8,000 people in attendance each year. This year, about 30,000 were invited to participate in the event, which highlighted the First Lady's new healthy kids initiative.

This year's "Ready, Set, Go!" theme was based on the First Lady's "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity. Activity stations featured football, basketball, tennis, hoola hoops, and yoga, with sports stars like Olympian Apolo Ohno, tennis great Billie Jean King, and players from the Washington Redskins.

"I like the fact that they're combining good food and fitness," said one smiling parent, who had brought his sons to the egg roll. "That's what we've telling these guys, that they've got to eat their fruits and vegetables and play a lot of sports and exercise a lot."

Those needing a break from all the activities could snack on healthy foods and drinks, take a tour of the White House vegetable garden, enjoy performances by Justin Bieber and the cast from the TV show Glee, or listen in on book readings. Besides J.K. Rowling, President Obama also read to kids.

"Our hope today is that in addition to having fun and doing some of the traditional activities like the egg roll and the Easter egg hunt, that you can learn about beginning to live a more healthy life," Mrs. Obama told the crowd.

For more about the White House Easter Egg Roll, check out the pictures and blog entries at the White House website. You can also read Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang's blog post about being at the White House Easter Egg Roll on the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Blog.

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  • Subjects:
    Health and Safety, The Presidency, Exercise and Fitness, Easter
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Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.