back to top

16 Surprisingly Interesting Facts About The White House Easter Egg Roll

Sean Spicer wore the Easter Bunny costume during the George W. Bush administration.

Posted on

1. First things first: It's an Easter egg roll, not an Easter egg hunt.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

There's only ever been one actual Easter egg hunt at the White House. First lady Pat Nixon's staff arranged it in the early '70s, but there were so many unfound eggs afterward that no president or first lady has attempted to do another.

2. And an Easter egg roll is basically a race where you compete to push eggs down the White House lawn with a spoon.

Joyce Naltchayan / AFP / Getty Images

That activity was first introduced by the Nixons in 1974. Before that, other egg games included egg tossing and egg croquet.

3. People have been rolling Easter eggs around Washington, DC, since the 1800s.

Getty Images

It started as a game where people rolled hard-boiled eggs down hills in the nation's capital to see which ones could travel the farthest without breaking.

4. The very first White House Easter Egg Roll happened after Congress passed a law that literally demanded local youths get off their lawn.

Fpg / Getty Images

Informal Easter egg rolls in Washington, DC, started around 1872, as an Easter Monday activity for the area schoolchildren who were on spring break; the kiddos would “ramble at will on the fresh green grass of the Capitol." Congress was not so happy about youths tearing up the precious grass outside their place of work, and created the Turf Protection Law, which was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1876. That law aimed “to prevent any portion of the Capitol grounds and terraces from being used as play-grounds or otherwise, so far as may be necessary to protect the public property, turf, and grass from destruction and injury." Like we said: Congress has a "get off our lawn" law.


5. Since Capitol police threatened to enforce the law even for children, President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy opened up the White House gates for festivities two years later, in 1878.

6. When Grover Cleveland was president, revelers waltzed right into the White House for a little extra Easter fun.

Getty Images

In 1885, some children made their way into the East Room, and not only was Cleveland unbothered, he was positively delighted, and made indoor celebrations the norm for a time. He apparently didn't even mind that the carpet was "ground full of freshly smashed hard-boiled egg and broken egg shells" afterward.

7. Black children weren't allowed to attend until 1954, when first lady Mamie Eisenhower invited them to participate.

Joyce Naltchayan / AFP / Getty Images

The National Zoo began hosting an alternate event that was open to black families in 1891. The zoo continues to host Easter festivities every year.


10. And current press secretary Sean Spicer once served as the White House Easter Bunny.

#neverforget #WhiteHousebunny @seanspicer

11. There's been an Easter Egg Roll nearly every Easter Monday since the Hayes' first one.

Getty Images

Thanks to rationing during and immediately following the two world wars, there was no Easter Egg Roll from 1917–20, in 1943, or in 1945. The event was also canceled entirely during Harry Truman's administration due to White House renovations.


15. Aside from the actual egg roll, other games and activities also happen during the big day, and those change from year to year.

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

In 2016, kiddos could dance with Silentó, participate in a hula hoop contest, listen to the Obamas read a story, watch a cooking demonstration, and hear Idina Menzel sing live, among other things.

16. And finally, here's a sneak peek of the 2017 eggs:

And then there was gold! So proud of the Wells team for their hard work in bringing this year's project to life. Lo…