Scoring tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll is luck of the draw these days. After trying the lottery system for two years unsuccessfully, this year we got in! The online lottery for tickets opens roughly 6 weeks before Easter and lasts only a few days. Officially one entry per household is permitted but you can always have out of town family enter as well.
Lottery winners are notified by email or you can check the www.recreation.gov website where you submit lottery applications. Be aware that our notification emails went into our email spam. Once you are notified of your successful ticket bid you have a limited amount of time to officially claim your tickets. All tickets must be printed at home prior to the event.
On the day of the egg roll we took the metro downtown to arrive at the White House grounds prior to our noon timeslot. Our tickets read, “Doors open at 11:15”, which meant that they began security screening at that time for our “Group C” tickets. Security is very thorough and took a lot of surprising items including sunscreen, hand sanitizer and all reusable water bottles and coffee cups even if empty. Once through security you cue up a second time waiting to get into the official Easter Egg Roll grounds.
Weather plays a huge role in the enjoyment of this event. On a hot sunny day such as we had this year, kids and parents may be quicker to lose their patience with all of the crowds and waiting involved to get into the event. At the other extreme, a rainy day may cancel the event.
Prepare your kids ahead of time that there will be a long wait to get in and many lines for the activities inside. Bring snacks and drinks to have while waiting in the security line and hold off on using the bathroom until you get inside if possible to avoid the port-a-potties outside.
Aside from the traditional rolling of eggs with spoons in front of the White House (long line), there are many other activities that can be enjoyed here. This year there was egg dyeing, egg decorating, an obstacle course, craft area, hula hoop and dance party, story time, face painting and main stage entertainment. Most activities take place in the open sunny areas but there are large shade trees to take a break from the heat.
A huge hit for my kids was all of the storybook and PBS television characters who were there posing for pictures. We saw Madeline, Clifford, Super Why, Papa Smurf, Tiny from Dinosaur Train, Kung Fu Panda and Felix the Cat. Most people seemed to go towards the egg rolling area first so we found working backwards yielded smaller crowds. We did not luck out in seeing the First Family, but the Obamas do make an appearance each year, just not during each allotted session.
Tickets are issued for 2 hour time blocks and they do shut down the activities 5 to 10 minutes before the time slot is up to start ushering people out of the grounds. Again, prepare your kids ahead of time that they will need to pick and choose activities since the timing system just does not allow families enough time to experience everything offered. The entire event seemed to be most successful for kids ages 5 and up. We saw many younger kids having meltdowns throughout our session from noon to 2pm.
Restrooms and drinks are available throughout the grounds of the Easter Egg Roll. The portable restrooms have flush toilets and sinks and changing tables in the women’s room. Cold water is distributed in several locations and a tap near the stage area enables you to refill the bottles as needed. This year Whole Foods set up a mock farmer’s market where apples and pears were given out but no other food was available for sale on grounds of the event.
Despite the warm day and the large crowds, our family really did enjoy our day on the White House lawn. The excitement at times seemed greater for the parents than the kids since many young visitor’s were not old enough to grasp the significance of the building they were playing in view of. My 5 and 6 year olds’ favorite activities were the egg rolling, the craft table, face painting and taking pictures with the characters.
Most of what they enjoyed could have been experienced at any spring festival but the pictures of them rolling eggs on the White House lawn will be a treasured family souvenir for years to come. If you are lucky enough to score tickets, GO! Just prepare yourselves and your family for a bit of organized chaos and a lot of waiting before the fun can begin.