I was presented a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to attend the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll held on Monday. My son’s school had been awarded a certain number of tickets. Any family wishing to participate in the ticket lottery was able to enter one adult and any children/siblings under the age of 11. When we received the call we were the stunned owners of three tickets to this incredible event.
So begins my journey into an event which, as a planner, made me both appreciate the reasons and methods the staff has in place to pull off such an experience.We decided to take the blue line metro to the Federal Triangle stop in downtown Washington, D.C., which the boys thoroughly enjoyed. It was quite busy considering the Nats were playing at 1 p.m. the same day and we were trying to make our 11:30 a.m. gate time. But the crowd kept our excitement alive. From there we made our way through the gorgeous Ronald Reagan International Building where we grabbed some much-needed apple juice before heading over to the corner of 15th and Constitution Ave. on the corner of The Ellipse.
Here, we found the start of an intricate collection of lines. Some were along fences, others serpentine, some were in an open field and they all seemed to lead you from one line grouping into the next. But each of these lines brought you that much closer to the White House and the South Lawn and all its Easter splendor. As we weaved our way through the crowds, we ran into friends and families from school and at every turn was an Easter Egg Roll volunteer with a sunny yellow hat and green apron with the adorable logo on it, ready with a smile, positive statement or answer to your question. Show note: Kudos to that kind of positive manpower – it help keep the mass calm and feeling well informed.
Photo ops were placed throughout it did seem whenever one arose that was the only time the line really had to move and then the volunteers were asking you to keep moving (after literally standing still for 20 minute intervals.) Such is life – we did manage to grab some good shots and again, the destination kept getting closer and so the overall patience hung in there for the shear excitement of getting to be that close to the White House. Once you truly arrive at the entrance of the South Lawn and the games it’s a sensory overload. Characters from all walks (Smurfs, Curious George, Super Why, Cat in the Hat, Easter Bunny, Dora and Olivia, among a dozen others) are there hugging and taking photos with little ones, there are adorable wooden cutouts to take pictures with and more activities than you could fit into a full day, much less an hour. Show note: Always leave them wanting more so they come back again.
We were blessed with a gorgeous day, brief sprinkle which made us thankful it didn’t formulate into full rain and the cherry blossoms in bloom, which was perfect. While waiting in the line for the official Egg Roll we got the chance to visit with others and take some incredible shots of the seal on the White House as we were as close as you could possibly come. The children were delighted. My oldest was reciting the number of presidents, who came in which order, who was alive and who wasn’t. He said that President Obama had beaten Mitt Romney and if he hadn’t then there wouldn’t be a “Bo” commemorative egg. It made me proud when other children began to chime in when they also knew the answers. In line, a volunteer provided tattoos for the children so the trivia turned into tattoo time and they loved it. Show note: Have a plan B, C and D in case your crowd gets so large they need alternatives.
The boys each rolled an Easter egg on the front of the White House lawn and they enjoyed it thoroughly. I kept having to pinch myself that we were truly there. The event had a fitness focus, thanks to the First Lady with Lego® sculptures of athletes, six sport-based obstacle courses for the children to run (eggtivity zone – cute!), a yoga garden, and food prep session. And even though there were approximately 30,000 people yesterday doing the same thing – it still felt personal. The staff were quick, friendly, efficient and on top of it. Show note: Staff is everything on overall perception of the event.
Did I come away with some great ideas for our upcoming event such as Glass Expo Midwest™, Fenestration Day™, Auto Glass Week™ and the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™? You bet, but I also came away with some memories that will certainly last our lifetimes.