Presidents Party with the Easter Bunny: A Look Back at White House Easter Egg Rolls
The annual White House Easter Egg Roll returned this year after a two-year break due to COVID, so what better time to look back at how past presidents have hosted their egg rolls?
This tradition dates back to 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes welcomed local children to the White House South Lawn for the first official egg roll. The event, held each year on Easter Monday, has only ever been canceled due to bad weather, World War I and World War II and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Easter Egg Roll is considered the most high-profile and elaborate public event thrown at the White House, as well as one of the most heavily promoted. In recent years, it has featured A-list performers like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel and Silentó.
Traditions at the event include the egg roll itself (the rolling of colorfully dyed eggs across the South Lawn), the giving out of souvenir eggs (a tradition started in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan) and the president posing with the White House Easter Bunny (typically played by an obliging staffer and once, under President George W. Bush, by Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, then an aide in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.)
In 2015, the president read Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are to a group of children, played tennis with pro Caroline Wozniacki and shot some hoops with Washington Wizards player John Wall and NFL star Calais Campbell.
The band Fifth Harmony and cast members of So You Think You Can Dance also performed in honor of the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move!, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to get children active.
The 2017 Easter Egg Roll, hosted by President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, was a “smaller and less ambitious” affair, The New York Times reported. The smaller numbers continued in 2018 and 2019, until the event was put on pause in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, the event returned with President Joe and First Lady Jill Biden at the helm. Big moments from the 'EGGucation Roll,' as it was dubbed, included a visit from Jimmy Fallon and, of course, the Easter Bunny.
More than 30,000 kids and adults were on hand for the 2022 event, despite the rain. “It means so much to see and hear the children and all the families show up to be here today,” the president told reporters.