136th Annual White House Easter Egg Roll Draws Thousands

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President Barack Obama went one-for-three shooting basketballs at the White House Easter Egg Roll, an improvement over his 2013 performance, as he and First Lady Michelle Obama applied a health and activity theme to the colorful annual springtime South Lawn ritual.

Under sunny skies with mere wisps of clouds overhead Monday, the first lady said the emphasis of the 136th Easter Egg Roll would be healthy eating, inviting parents to join her in snack-making demonstrations.

Obama reprised what has become an annual reading of Maurice Sendak's children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are.'' With a group of children arrayed before him, Obama mimicked the book's monsters, gnashing his teeth and growling and challenging the youngsters to a staring contest.

But if there was a feat he did not want to repeat, it was his 1-for-15 hoops shooting from last year. This time, the president, an avid basketball fan and pick-up game player, missed his first two shots from the foul line of the White House's outdoor court, and then sank his third.

Wearing khakis and with his sleeves rolled up, the president also hit tennis balls, posed for photographs and joined his wife in encouraging children in an Easter egg roll race.

The event's theme was "Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape'' and featured live music and cooking in addition to the egg roll, sports and storytelling.

The first lady opened the festivities from the White House's Truman Balcony, flanked by the president and an Easter bunny.

The White House was expecting 30,000 to take turns participating in the event on the South Lawn.

Mrs. Obama participated in a healthy snack cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Marc Murphy and cast members of Disney's "Jessie.'' The group prepared fruit salad with honey and kale smoothies.

"I have a smoothie like this almost every day,'' she said, adding that she likes to include green apples and ginger in her green drink.

Mrs. Obama did her own storytelling, making an appearance with the family's dogs, Sunny and Bo, who quickly disappeared for their own walks with National Park Service staffers. The first lady read "My Garden'' to the youngsters and asked what non-foods they would grow in their garden. After the children replied "money,'' she said, "Wow, this is a very sophisticated crew.''

"You guys have big dreams,'' she added. "I love it.''

Singers Ariana Grande and Candice Glover and DJ Beauty & the Beatz will take the Rock 'n' Egg Roll stage Monday afternoon. Other special guests will include former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, former NBA start Adrian Dantley, Olympic fencer Maria Cruz Garcia and sports journalist Bonnie Bernstein.

Tickets were distributed via an online lottery back in March.

The event ends at 6:45 p.m. Monday; guests move through in waves according to their timed tickets.

The Easter Egg Roll is held annually the Monday after Easter on the south lawn of the White House. The tradition of rolling colored eggs down the White House lawn was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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