2016 was a year full of excitement for our family. From the birth of our 7th to our big move to Oklahoma, it was nothing short of remarkable. One of the highlights of 2016 was spending the day at the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll!
The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll was on March 28th from 7:30am to 6:45pm. Tickets, up to 6, were available through the lottery on Recreation.gov allowed entry during a designated 2 hour window: 7:30am-9:30am, 9:45am-11:45am, 12:15pm-2:15pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm, 4:45pm-6:45pm (look for the 2017 Easter Egg Roll ticket lottery in February). It’s important to note that everyone just starts to be admitted at the beginning of the time window, and depending upon your place in line, it might be another 30-60 minutes until you finally get into the event. As a result, with the normal 2 hour tickets, it is important to get there early, be prepared to wait in long lines for both security and to get into the event, and make the best use of the limited time you have at the Easter Egg Roll.
2016 was our first year to attend the event and thanks to “All Day” passes (could enter the Easter Egg Roll whenever we wanted and leave whenever we wanted), we were able to see EVERYTHING from the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll! In this post we’ll share some of the highlights from the event along with ideas on how you can optimize your time at future Easter Egg Rolls.
With our All Day passes, we had the luxury of avoiding any potential rush hour issues and arrived at the Easter Egg Roll around 10am (which was a little later so we missed the excitement caused by the attendance of Beyonce, Jay Z, and Blue Ivy). We were also able to skip all of the lines and enjoy the activities right away!
Easter Egg Roll
The Easter Egg Roll is the namesake activity for the event and with its prime location next to the White House, it had the longest lines all day. With our All Day tickets, we were able to get in line during one of the switchovers between the different two hour groups. During a switchover, the current group is fully removed from the event, all the main activities shutdown, and the volunteers take a break before the next two hour group starts to arrive. Since we didn’t have to leave, we could use this opportunity to try different activities that didn’t close or to make sure we were first in line when the activities opened up for the next group. While we waited in line during the switchover for the Easter Egg Roll, the President’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, came out for a walk and we were able to pet them!
We also used the time in line to meet some other attendees like Fairy Twinkletoes from Australia and some Rovio employees from Finland!
Once it was our turn, everyone lined up at the start and got ready to roll their egg. When the whistle blew, everyone took their wooden spoon and rolled their egg as fast as they could to the finish line. All in all it’s about one minute of unique fun with a pretty impressive background.
Eggcited to Cook
One of our favorite activities from the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll was their “Eggcited to Cook” stage where local and national celebrity chefs shared tips and engaged the kids. Since we were at the Easter Egg Roll nearly all day, we were able to see three of the chefs. First up, was local celebrity Chef Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery, We the Pizza, and Bearnaise who we didn’t recognize with his long hair! Chef Spike invited some of the kids to help him make and present a Strawberries and Cream Banana Sushi Roll.
Later in the day we returned to the stage to see Food Network’s Chef Sunny Anderson. Chef Anderson did a cooking demonstration for an awesome gourmet popcorn treat, shared some great tips, and answered questions from the crowd. One of our favorite tips that Chef Anderson shared was her trick to softening butter, “fill a large mug with water, microwave it for one minute, dump out the water, place the warm mug over the butter you are trying to soften for a few minutes.” It was a great idea that we’ve already used several times!
Our final chef we met was Chef Ted Allen who battled howling wind to demonstrate “egg in a hole”. However, he quickly shifted to answering lots of questions and bantering with the crowd. As Chef Allen is host of Chopped on Food Network, one of our kids asked him a question about what he would pick for a really difficult Chopped basket. Interestingly, his answer was very similar to one Chef Marc Murphy gave us and basically suggested that really “easy” baskets (e.g. steak, baked potato, etc) would be the hardest because it is difficult to transform them. Chef Allen also added that he thought leftovers could be a quite a challenge as well.
Another fun activity at the Easter Egg Roll was the Storytime Stage where throughout the day various celebrities would do fun interpretations of stories for the audience. The first story we heard was the cast of the Black-ish, led by Anthony Anderson and Deon Cole, who delighted the crowd with their version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!
Later in the day, we returned to Storytime Stage to hear the cast of Bunk’d read a fun story from the Lion King.
All throughout the day different artists performed at the music stage. The first we saw was Idina Menzel and most of the kids were really excited to hear her sing “Let It Go” (and a couple were definitely not excited).
The music stage was great because you could hear all the artists as you walked around and participated in all of the various activities. Another performer we stopped to enjoy was Silento, joined by Choo Choo Soul’s Genevieve Goings, and his hit Watch Me (whip/nae nae).
Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter Egg Hunt was on the south end of the South Lawn and while it too had long lines, the beautiful springtime view made waiting go very quickly. Once again, we were fortunate to get in line during one of the switchovers to minimize the wait.
With the Easter Egg Hunt, a part of the South Lawn is sectioned off, covered in hay, and filled with eggs for children to find and load their baskets. A group of twenty or so children are allowed to hunt at a time and any children who found a special golden egg won Lands End commemorative Easter Egg Roll bag.
The Easter Egg Roll had so many activities that even with all day to explore, it is difficult to do them all. Another activity we did experience was visiting the White House Basketball and Tennis Courts for some private lessons.
In other parts of the South Lawn, the Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC) led a number of fun science-related activities such as designing innovative paper airplanes. We are big fans of ASTC due to their awesome Passport Program which allows you to be a member at one affiliated Science Center and get in others around the U.S. and world for free!
Other activities at the Easter Egg Roll included the Eggtivity Obstacle Course (with various athletic celebrities guiding participants through drills), a dance party on the South Lawn, opportunities to play with food, work on a variety of crafts, character meet and greets, and fun exploring the South Lawn of the White House!
Wrap-up and Tips for the next Easter Egg Roll
As the sun set on our amazing day at the White House Easter Egg Roll, we filed out with one last impressive view of the Washington Monument, our souvenir eggs, and lots of candy.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is a bucket-list experience and since most people who get to attend are limited to the two hour window, we wanted to pass along a few tips from being in the unique position of experiencing almost everything. First, get there early. Line position is everything so the earlier you can get through security and get in line for your designated time window, the more options and time you will have in the event. Second, decide how much you care about the actual Easter Egg Roll vs all of the other activities. The Easter Egg Roll consistently had the longest lines. While the Easter Egg Roll is iconic, it is brief, so know going in how long you are willing to wait. One strategy we’d recommend is starting with the Easter Egg Hunt (shorter lines, kids can win a prize, etc) and then pick a couple of other activities (e.g. Basketball/Tennis, Obstacle Course, etc) you want to try. Third, activities such as Eggcited to Cook, Storytime Stage, and Music Stage are great, but who’ll be there during your window is somewhat random. So if you are really interested in seeing a particular chef, performer, celebrity, check with the people running the activity once you’re in the Easter Egg Roll to find out who will be there during your time window. Also check social media, we actually found out when Chef Ted Allen was going to be on from Twitter! If you’re pressed for time, these activities are great because you can have a unique experience without waste time waiting in a line. Fourth, remember you are at the White House and try to find a little time to explore. Take a look at the trees, the fountains, the gardens, remember the White House is a National Park after all! Finally, remember you can’t bring any food or drink with you to the Easter Egg Roll, but don’t worry as they provide a lot of water and with just two hours, you won’t really need it anyway.
We hope our experience has given you insights into the wonder and tradition that is the White House Easter Egg Roll. So, if you are one of the lucky 30,000+ who get tickets for the Easter Egg Roll in 2017 and beyond, plan ahead, get there early, and have a lot of fun!
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