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White House Egg Roll Draws Thousands

From Associated Press

In an enduring springtime ritual, President Clinton blew the opening whistle Monday to welcome thousands of children to the White House lawn, where they rolled Easter eggs.

“This is the only thing every year, no matter what else happens, I know I will do right,” the president said, pressing a nickel-clad whistle to his lips, blowing authoritatively, and starting eggs whizzing across the green grass,

The Marine band, seated in the shade of the South Portico, played, “The Easter Parade” instead of “Hail to the Chief” as the president entered. Mama and papa Easter bunnies flanked him and waved to the kids.

Giant costumed Easter eggs, each wearing a bright Easter bonnet, danced near a display of Easter confections made by pastry chefs from around the country. One showed an egg-shaped globe held aloft by two angels. Another featured Socks, the White House cat.

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The White House kitchen dyed 7,200 hard-boiled eggs for the event, which dates to 1879 and the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes.

An additional 2,500 eggs were ready for children to color themselves at the event on the sprawling South Lawn and the adjoining Ellipse.

About 25,000 durable wooden keepsake eggs, each bearing the silhouette of the White House and the engraved signatures of the president and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, were ready for distribution to the guests, ages 3 to 6.

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No adults are allowed to attend without having a young child in tow.

The storytelling by celebrities and the President’s welcoming remarks were cybercast over the Internet.

“For the very first time hundreds of thousands of young people will be experiencing the egg roll here at the White House via the Internet,” Clinton told the gathering.

The Clintons celebrated their own Easter holiday Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in western Maryland.

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