White House Tours, Arranged by Congress, Halted; WH-Arranged Easter Egg Roll Still On

By Susan Jones | March 6, 2013 | 1:10pm EST

The White House website notes that the official 2013 White House Easter Egg is "crafted from FSC-certified U.S. hardwood, comes in four custom colors, and includes the stamped signatures of the President and First Lady. (White House photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House may be closed to spring break visitors because of staff shortages blamed on spending reductions, but it looks like the White House Easter Egg roll, a party for 35,000 hosted by the Obama family, is still on.

Since public tours of the White House are arranged through congressional offices, cancellation of those long-planned tours might place additional pressure on lawmakers who did not find a way to avoid the sequester.

But admission to the Easter Egg roll -- a White House tradition dating back to 1878 -- is handled by a White-House-arranged lottery, and any cancellation would reflect on the the hosts -- President and Mrs. Obama.

The White House website describes the Easter Egg Roll as "one of the most eagerly anticipated spring events in our Nation's Capital."

As of Wednesday, when snow covered the South Lawn, the egg roll was still set for Monday, April 1.

In each of the past four years, the Obamas have hosted an estimated 30,000 people at the annual egg roll. This year's crowd of 35,000 would be the largest ever.

The White House does not say how much the event costs taxpayers, but at the very least, the expenses include staffing by National Park Service employees and the Secret Service.

Some of the expenses are defrayed by the sale of wooden Easter eggs: The White House website notes that the official 2013 White House Easter Egg is "crafted from FSC-certified U.S. hardwood, comes in four custom colors, and includes the stamped signatures of the President and First Lady. The commemorative eggs arrive in a festive, eco-friendly gift box made from SFI-certified paperboard."

People who purchase a commemorative egg set will get a "special edition" egg marked "Bo" (the dog) and stamped with a paw-print.

The Easter Monday activities include games, stories, dancing, sports courts and cooking demonstrations to "help educate families on smart ways to incorporate healthy eating and exercise choices into their daily routines, which are key pillars of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 'Let’s Move!' initiative."

The theme of this year's event is "Be  Healthy, Be Active, Be You."

As for "be thrifty," consider the reason the Egg Roll now takes place at the White House:

In 1876, members of Congress grew tired of Easter crowds, including young egg-rollers, tearing up the Capitol grounds, so they passed a law preventing the Capitol grounds from being used as an Easter playground.

According to the White House website, in 1878, a New York newspaper reported that several young boys approached a strolling President Rutherford B. Hayes and asked for permission to use his back yard to roll eggs. Not wanting to say no to the children, President Hayes said yes.

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