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The White House Easter Egg Roll, a brief history

Dating back to 1878

People attending the annual Easter Egg Roll walk along the South Lawn of the White House, April 5, 2010
People attending the annual Easter Egg Roll walk along the South Lawn of the White House, April 5, 2010
Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

On Monday, 35,000 people are expected to attend the largest annual public event on the White House grounds, otherwise known as the Easter Egg Roll. When the tradition began in 1878, the event was organized on the Capitol lawn with real eggs. The dyed, hard-boiled eggs were rolled across the lawn to see whose would go the farthest before cracking. Eggs were tossed, hit, and collected. Eventually, a smell arose.

First Lady Grace Coolidge brings pet Raccoon Rebecca to the 1927 Easter Egg Roll.
First Lady Grace Coolidge brings pet Raccoon Rebecca to the 1927 Easter Egg Roll.
Photo via Library of Congress

Stewart McLaurin, President of The White House Historical Association (WHHA), said, "As you can imagine, some would be lost and left on the White House lawn, and it created an unpleasantness as those eggs rotted."

Children dance around a maypole at the White House Easter Egg Roll, ca. 1930.
Children dance around a maypole at the White House Easter Egg Roll, ca. 1930.
Photo via Library of Congress

Thankfully, the event isn't as pungent as it used to be. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan had the idea to use wooden eggs to commemorate the event. Over the years, the White House Easter Egg Roll has taken on other new forms with festivities added like book readings and a visit from the Easter Bunny.

Laddie Boy hosts the Easter Egg Roll of 1923 while President and Mrs. Harding were on a trip.
Laddie Boy hosts the Easter Egg Roll of 1923 while President and Mrs. Harding were on a trip.
Photo via Library of Congress

McLaurin further spoke to Curbed about the history of the day-long Easter tradition. To learn more about the event, Curbed has compiled the memorable dates he spoke of below along with historical photos of the event.

2016 White House Easter Egg Roll [The White House]

The White House

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