ARLINGTON, Va. - National Guard members from five states and their families participated in yesterday’s 2009 Easter Egg Roll held on the South Lawn of the White House.
This year’s theme, "Let’s go play,” encouraged America’s youth to lead healthy and active lives.
According to the White House Web site, over 30,000 people from 45 states and the District of Columbia attended this year’s celebration.
About 2,500 tickets were distributed to military families, including 500 National Guard families.
"This was our first time attending the White House Easter Egg Roll, and the kids were very excited to go,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Vogel, who works at the National Guard Bureau.
"The experience was a little overwhelming for the kids, because of the large amount of people that were given tickets.”
As part of the theme, all of the activities at this year’s event taught children about the fun ways to exercise your body and your mind.
Activities included live musical performances by Fergie, Ziggy Marley and others, cooking with celebrity chefs in the Kid’s Kitchen, readings at the Storytime Stage, dance, yoga and jump rope workshops, an Easter egg hunt and traditional Easter egg roll.
"The kids did enjoy actually being at the White House and getting to see Sasha and Malia's new playground equipment, the basketball court and listening to Ziggy Marley,” Vogel said. "They also thought it was cool to get their picture taken with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor.”
Children were also given a souvenir Easter egg. This year’s egg is the greenest egg in history, according to the White House Web site. It is made from hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which means that the wood comes from environmentally and socially sustainably managed forests.
First Lady Dolly Madison began the tradition of Easter egg rolling in Washington, when local children joined her for an egg roll at the Capitol in 1814. In the following years, the children apparently made quite a mess, which prompted Congress to pass the Turf Protection Law in 1876 banning the use of the Capitol lawn as a playground.
Bad weather kept everyone indoors in 1877, so there was no need to enforce the law, but in 1878 children stood outside the gates of the White House until President Rutherford B. Hayes invited them onto the grounds to continue the egg roll tradition on the South Lawn.