Save the White House Egg Roll!

March 19th, 2013

Waking up this morning and turning on the news, I was distressed to hear that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll may be cancelled.

In fact, I wasn’t just distressed, I was boiling mad (there’s my egg pun for this blog).

What does the White House have against children?

First, they cancel White House tours during Spring Break. Now, they threaten to cancel a 135 year tradition of children rolling eggs on the White House lawn.

Granted, I’ve never totally gotten what’s “fun” about rolling an egg on grass, but then again, a lot of the Easter Egg hunts I’ve attended featured big kids knocking down toddlers for plastic eggs, so I think “fun” is a relative term when it comes to Easter egg entertainment.  Nevertheless, as far as I’m concerned, the White House Easter Egg Roll has such a rich history that it should be preserved.

Impress your friends with the following information.

In the nineteenth century, Easter egg rolls as entertainment were quite common.  This probably answers my earlier comment about why this started in the first place because back in those days, without television and video games, boiling and rolling an egg down a hill probably seemed like a blast, particularly since the alternative was reading poetry or listening to chamber music with your parents (not that I’m opposed to those activities mind you).

Over time, this activity found its way to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.  Every year, hundreds of children descended on Capitol Hill to roll eggs and roll themselves down the little incline once known as Jenkins Hill.  Evidently, this activity didn’t sit well with some of the child hating congressmen and senators who were probably a lot like the jerks you sit behind on an airplane with your toddler.  You know what I’m talking about.  These are the people who give you dirty looks and make comments if your kid even opens his mouth to sneeze.  Like these people weren’t kids themselves once.  Sorry—I digress.

Anyway, these particular elected officials tired of the mess the kids were making on the Capitol lawn, so they passed the Turf Protection Act (I’m not making this up).  That law mandated that no one could use the Capitol grounds as a playground.

Fortunately, the children of that era didn’t take this situation lying down.  They were bored and desperate enough for any form of entertainment that they went straight to President Rutherford B. Hayes and explained their situation.  President and Mrs. Hayes were parents to eight children (three who died in infancy), so unlike the Scrooges down Pennsylvania Avenue, they told the children that if anyone showed up on the White House lawn on what was then called the Easter Monday Egg Roll, they would not be turned away.  There was a rainout in 1877, but the following year the White House Easter Egg Roll went off without a hitch.  It’s been going ever since but for World Wars I and II.

Obviously, the event has changed considerably since the Hayes era.  Today, participants are provided with very cool looking wooden eggs. While these cost money, they also help preserve the lawn (hey—the Turf Protection Act wasn’t completely off base).  Musicians perform and celebrities attend the event.

Here’s an idea.  The White House is trying to blame Congress for potentially shutting down this year’s egg roll.

Why not turn the tables and bring the egg roll back to Capitol Hill where it started?  That may require repeal of the Turf Protection Act if it’s still around, but it would definitely be worth it. Congress, which hasn’t fared so well lately, could look like heroes.

In fact, I bet just the mere suggestion of such a thing would guarantee that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll lives to see another day.










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