Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wire Story

Downpour ends White House Easter Egg Roll early

By Logan C. Adams
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON - The ground may have been soggy, but spirits were not Monday morning for the 2005 White House Easter Egg Roll. Inclement weather ultimately won over, however, and the celebration ended after about an hour.

“This house belongs to America – it belongs to you – so I’m pleased to welcome you to your White House,” said Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to the crowd gathered under an ocean of colorful umbrellas, “or as the president calls it, ‘the people’s house.’”

Spellings co-hosted the event in President Bush’s back yard with Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt. Bush has been present for only one Easter Egg Roll, in 2002.

As rain continued to pour down, children waited in long lines to roll eggs on the South Lawn with large spoons. Many required the help of their parents. They won treats. Elsewhere, children swarmed costumed characters, including the Easter Bunny, for hugs and pictures. Children also sat at reading corners, where children’s book authors and politicians, including the Egg Roll’s co-hosts, read to them.

Also popular were the stages where live music from the likes of Barney the Dinosaur and magicians’ tricks entertained the soaked crowd.

“They seem to be real troopers. It’s really amazing,” said “Ralph the Great,” aka Ralph Metzler, a local entertainer who helped arrange a group of 11 magicians from across the nation to perform. “You just get somebody on the stage, and they just flock over to the stage. They wanted to be here, and they’re braving the weather to stay and enjoy it.”

The White House’s Easter Monday tradition dates to 1878, during the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Held in earlier years on the Capitol grounds, it was moved to the White House when Congress forbade games on its lawn.

The White House said it had 11,000 hard-boiled eggs ready for children to roll on a short grass course.

Not all who attended the celebration had their spirits dampened by the uncooperative weather that turned parts of the pristine lawn into slick mud.

“The weather’s perfect, ‘cause I like rain,” said Steven Mulchi, 12, of Silver Spring, Md. “You get to play in it and get all dirty.”

Those who did not get in before the cancellation were still allowed to exchange their tickets for Easter Egg Roll treats that were to be given to all the children at the party.


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