Thousands of children, with camera-toting parents in tow, swarmed the South Lawn of the White House today for the annual Easter egg roll.
“This is neat,” said Cara Gavejian, 9, of West Chester County, N.Y. Making her eighth visit to the event, she explained, “You get to go to the White House--and get a day off from school.”
President Bush and his wife, Barbara, joined in the festivities that featured children rolling eggs across the thick lawn with spoons, and getting autographs from celebrities such as pro wrestler John Studd.
Twice Bush blew a silver whistle to start egg rolls, but each time his grandchild, Ellie, 2, balked, prompting the President to raise his hands in mock frustration.
Six Bush grandchildren--Ellie, Marshall, 2, Pierce, 3, Loren, 4, Samuel, 4, and Ashley, 7 weeks--joined youngsters from across the country on the South Lawn.
The White House anticipated a crowd of 30,000 and had counted 22,000 by noon.
Vice President Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn, also joined the crowd to sign autographs.
Nancy Turner of nearby Alexandria, Va., pushed a baby carriage holding her 7-month-old child, Caitlin, and unabashedly admitted, “This is as much for parents, maybe more so, than it is for children.”
The White House event dates back to 1878 when Congress, weary of broken shells, banned the egg rolls initiated by Dolley Madison on the Capitol grounds.
Since then, except for wars and bad weather, the eggs have rolled every Easter Monday.