This past Monday we had the wonderful opportunity to attend the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House. I hadn’t really looked into this event in the past. In fact, I don’t think I even realized it existed until 2 years ago when I saw my former Operations Officer attend it with her son and husband. That got me thinking about how much fun it would be for our children so I decided to enter the lottery for the next year’s event. Unfortunately, I relied on assumptions of when the lottery would open and didn’t check the website until it was too late and missed out on last year’s event. This year I kind of forgot about the Egg Roll until a Facebook page I follow, Macaroni Kid Pasadena, announced that the lottery was open. I entered our family figuring that the worst that would happen is that we’d get rejected. I promptly forgot about the event again until I got the email about the lottery results. We got selected!
So now a little bit about the process of getting into the White House Easter Egg Roll and our experience that morning.
So, first and foremost you have to enter the online lottery to attend the Easter Egg Roll. You can enter the lottery by visiting the Recreation.gov website for the event. It takes maybe 5 minutes to fill out the form. You’ll have to put in the usual information (home address, phone number, email, etc) as well as list the time slot you wish to attend in order of preference. This year there were 5 different time slot groups and we selected Group B as our preferred (9:45-11:45) time. The lottery was open for 3 days this year (March 15-March18) so the window to enter is easy to miss. I would recommend checking the site in January to see when it opens for that year and then setting a calendar reminder for it.
Result didn’t get released until about 2 weeks after the start of the lottery. They suggest checking your recreation.gov account to check the results, but the site will send you a notification via email to announce your status. I received mine around 9 AM on March 31st and I was ecstatic to find out we would be attending the event! We didn’t get our first choice group but did get our second choice: Group A (7:30-9:30). Now, most would be put off by the early time but we figured it would be great. The children would still have the energy (and patience) to attend and we could get out of the area before traffic hit again.
Once you receive notification that your family was selected, you are given a PIN and have 5 days to claim your tickets online at the link they provide. The PIN is specific to your family and will pop up your assigned group on the page. For this I strongly recommend you use a desktop or laptop computer that has Chrome or IE. If you try to use a mobile device or Safari there is a chance that your link/code will corrupt. Also, you must type in your PIN, not copy and paste it, as this will corrupt the code as well. Don’t worry if this does happen, though, as you can call the number provided and they will reset the account so you can try again on the correct platform (I know because this happened to me, lol). Once you confirm your attendance, each ticket will be emailed individually and you will have to print them out to bring them with you to the event.
Since we were going in with the first group of the morning, we decided it would be best to stay at a local hotel. We chose the JW Marriot as it is our go-to hotel when we attend events in that area (Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC, Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, Navy-Air Force Half, etc). It is about a 10 minute walk from the South Lawn entrance which was perfectly reasonable for our family to accomplish.
With our group being admitted into the event at 7:30 AM, we were told that security and the inner queue would be open at 6:45 AM. However, it was strongly advised that we arrive sooner since the volume of people attending would be high (4,000 per group, to be exact). I had read on other blogs that sometimes it would take up to an hour to get through the front gates. We prepared for the worst and planned to leave our hotel promptly at 6 AM.
The morning of I got up around 4:30 so I could get ready alone while the children slept. My husband was up shortly afterwards and by 5:45 we were ready to go. We made it downstairs at 6 AM and stopped for coffee and a quick bite for the little ones. From there we made our way over to the South Lawn entrance. National Park rangers were checking guest tickets prior to entering the first queue. All members of the party needed to be present in order to go line up. The line was quite short at 6:15 and we were in the first waiting “row”. The outer gates opened promptly at 6:45 and our tickets were scanned and replaced with wristbands. From there we went through security and heading towards the waiting area and second queue. There is a nice list on the website that goes over what you can and can’t bring and complying makes it that much easier to get through. The waiting area had carts with different beverages (juices and waters), games, and a DJ to keep the waiting masses entertained. We could see the White House South Lawn from our spot in line and the excitement grew in my daughter as she could see some of the characters in attendance. We took some photos and before we knew it we were being led to the South Lawn!
Entering the South Lawn there was a lot to take in. The grounds were beautifully decorated with flower arrangements and all sorts of Easter eggs. Volunteers directed us to the main event first: the Easter Egg Roll. This took place directly in front of the White House and felt a bit surreal. Both of the little ones took part in the roll, of course. Jake was simply excited to hold the wooden spoon, lol. The roll was well organized and the volunteers were so helpful. The youngest children were allowed to take their time and not once did we feel rushed. Jake didn’t want to give his egg back in the end and that was pretty funny. I’m glad we were encouraged to do this first as getting the “mandatory” must-dos out of the way allowed us to finish them before the place got too crowded (people were still coming in while we were at the roll).
We quickly headed down the lawn to take the White House photo spot they had set up. Once we were done we let Izzy decide what she wanted to do since we were here for her. She tried out the Reading Nook first but didn’t want to sit and wait the 10 minutes before it started. Sean Spicer was doing the first reading so we missed him but that was okay. Meeting the political figureheads wasn’t the priority of the day.
While on the lawn the Marine Corps Band entertained everyone with musical renditions of children songs. Some of the ones I recognized were the theme song to Sesame Street (Elmo was in attendance), Let it Go, and First Time in Forever. It was pretty awesome to hear them play that while the children colored. Corn hole and a mini presidential podium were set up on the lawn as well. There were several character meets in the area, some recognizable ones being the Ninja Turtles, Peppa Pig, Judy Hopps, Cat in the Hat, and the Easter Bunny (of course). We caught wind that there was an egg hunt set up near the courtyard so we headed over to participate in that.
Next to the Presidential Tennis Court was the Bunny Hop Stage (where musical guests were performing), the Egg Hunt, Egg Decorating, Cookie Decorating, National Photo Ops, DC United Booth, Minecraft, Kitchen Garden Coloring Wall, and more drink carts. Izzy completed the egg hunt first, grabbed an egg pop (literally a hard-boiled egg on a stick, lol), and then decorated her cookie. Jake ate his plain cookie (he was hungry again) and promptly passed out during this time. We walked around a bit and let Izzy get in a few games of corn hole. By this time it was nearing 9:15 and we decided it may be a good time to head out before the crowds were ushered out at 9:30. Izzy was more than ready to go because she was hungry. Although they did provide plenty of drinks, my one criticism would be that they didn’t have any snacks outside of the egg pops and the cookie available. Kind of tough for us when you have 2 young ones and they won’t allow any food or beverages into the event.
On our way out we collected the children’s various goodies and the coveted wooden egg. Izzy chose gold for herself and blue for Jake (okay, she chose pink at first for him but we nixed that immediately). There was also a booth set up at the end where you could buy the wooden eggs individually or as a set, as well as the ceramic special edition egg for this year. Exiting was a breeze but that may have had something to do with the fact that we left early. No regrets there.
We had to get at least 1 photo together =)
Overall, I thought the event was great! I was a bit worried it would be insanely crowded and that we would spent most of our time in lines. However, I was pleasantly incorrect and maybe stood in line for an activity for 5 minutes at most. I had done some research before the day of the event and had read that previous events had 7,000 people per group. Last year saw 35,000 people attend the event. Scary numbers, right? I was put at ease when the White House website stated that they decided to take a more conservative approach and only invited 4,000 people per group to attend. This was to alleviate the long lines they saw the year prior. Let me tell you, this was the best thing they did. Not once did I feel overwhelmed with people (which is great considering my agoraphobia) and we were able to enjoy all the activities during our time slot.
No insane crowds but definitely not empty despite what the media may be telling you.
I had also read from previous event recaps that the celebrity sightings were high at these events, whether it was political figures, actors, musicians, or pro athletes. I was excited at the thought but also a bit hesitant about it. Sure, it would be great to rub elbows with a famous person, but in the end we were here for the experience. I did manage to see Sean Spicer and Al Roker, as well as capture a glimpse of one of the President’s daughters, Tiffany (she drew quite the crowd). I read that the First Lady wanted to scale back the event and make it about the children and that’s exactly what she did. Rather than make it all about the big name celebrities gracing us with their presence, there were all sorts of games for the kids and activities that just ensured that they would have fun. I really liked the homely feel of it all. My daughter truly enjoyed herself and even said “Mommy, I loved the egg roll at the White House. I’m so happy I got to go” as we were leaving. That reaction alone made this experience priceless.
Attire. I haven’t quite covered that. I read a lot that this is an event on a lawn so dress accordingly. The email advised that children be dressed in clothing they could play in. Many bloggers stated that wearing Sunday dress was a mistake and made you look foolish. Our family decided that we wanted to look nice but not over-the-top so we decided on more of a business casual look. I know a lot thought we may be overdressed, but to be honest, what we wore felt perfect for a 7 AM event. I chose flats over heels due to the lawn (but brought both just in case 😉 ). We dressed the children in slacks/button up and a light dress but ensured they wore comfortable shoes and brought a t-shirt for our daughter in case she felt the dress was too much. We fit right in, really. There were a few Sunday best dressers and although they looked great, it did seem odd and out of place (3 little girls were in floor length gowns. Gorgeous but a bit over-the-top. Think wedding attire). Although, if you want to ensure your photo will be in the news that’s the perfect route to go! We also saw some very casually dressed individuals so going full on casual isn’t taboo either. Business casual seemed the way to go, though. After all, that’s what all the high profile people wore at the event as well. I’d definitely say dress nicely if you’d like, summer dresses/polos/slacks, and skip the heels as flats were definitely the way to go. Bringing the children a change of clothing is never a bad idea as 2 of the activities (egg dying and cookie decorating) can be quite messy.
I know some people are on the fence about attending this event with the Trump administration hosting it. However, regardless of who the President is, this is an experience you really don’t want to miss out on. Presidents come and go but the memories you’ll make if you get the opportunity to go will truly be with you forever. I know with our family we plan to enter the lottery again. We truly enjoyed our time and hope to have the opportunity to return again.