Over a century of Easter tradition continued Monday at the White House, where thousands gathered for the annual Easter Egg Roll.
President Donald Trump launched The White House’s largest annual event with the blast of a whistle and sent spoon-wielding kids into a frenzy as they used the utensils to coax hard-boiled eggs to the finish line.
“This is 141 years that we’ve been doing this,” Trump said, addressing the crowd from the Truman Balcony, where he was joined by first lady Melania Trump before they came downstairs to mingle with guests on the South Lawn.
“I don’t remember the first one,” Trump joked. The White House Easter Egg roll is one of the oldest traditions in the executive mansion’s history, dating back to 1878 under President Rutherford B. Hayes.
After blowing the whistle to begin one of many egg rolls taking place throughout the day, Trump joined children seated at a picnic table, where they colored cards for U.S. troops. He appeared to answer a question from a child about the wall the president wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Oh, it’s happening. It’s being built now,” Trump said at the table. “There’s a young guy just said, `Keep building that wall.’ Do you believe this? He’s going to be a conservative someday.”
The president also talked about the economy and the military, telling the crowd on a sunny morning that “Our country is doing fantastically” and that he is rebuilding the armed forces “to a level we have never seen before.”
For the 141st edition, the first lady introduced new activities including musical eggs and “Be Best Hopscotch,” incorporating her ongoing campaign to combat online bullying.
A record-breaking 74,000 eggs were donated for this year’s festivities by farmers across the country, according to the American Egg Board.
The rest of the day’s activities included a musical stage, an egg hunt, egg and cookie decorating, and multiple photo opportunities, including at a mini presidential lectern.
In the reading nook, Mrs. Trump read “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” by Emily Winfield Martin.
U.S. military bands provided entertainment.
The White House grounds opened to attendees at 7:30 a.m. Tickets were awarded by lottery between Feb. 28 and March 4.
In addition to the White House event, the National Zoo is holding a public Easter event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, featuring egg hunts, live music, food trucks and games.
The zoo’s celebration coincides with Earth Day, and will feature keeper talks and learning opportunities on wildlife conservation.