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Published: April 14th 2009
The White House Blues
Hopefully we'll look back on this picture one day and smile even if we weren't smiling when I took it.
This year's White House Easter Egg Roll
wasn't all that it was cracked up to be (forgive the shameless pun).
I'm about to walk a delicate line here and attempt to give an honest review of the event without coming off whiny or ungrateful. But since I'm not that good of a writer, please read this review in the context of my travel blog; it's a planning resource for families who want to try what we do in the future. I'm not writing with a spirit of negativity, just trying to inform.
Let's talk about the basics:
I wrote a lot about the ticket distribution in a previous entry. Tickets were distributed two weeks before the event online. To get tickets, camp out in front of your computer, log onto the White House website, and hit the refresh button all day long. Taking a potty break can hurt your chances of success because you will have a precious 30 second window to secure tickets when they're released.
Don't risk buying tickets from anyone for this event. The print at home tickets can be easily duplicated and only the first person to use them
The White House Easter Egg Roll
Waiting in line for security. The kids sat in the grass and played Rocks, Paper, Scissors.
will be admitted. They scan the tickets before you enter.
3. The Ellipse-
The line to enter the event was *huge* and formed on the Ellipse. We arrived at 1:30 for our 3:00 entrance time. The tickets cautioned arriving before the doors opened at 2:00 was not necessary. If I do this next year, I'll believe them. We sat on the ground in the sun from 1:30-2:15ish, and found no added benefit to being towards the beginning of the line. At around 2:15 we went through security to another part of the Ellipse. I'm a big proponent of following the rules, and didn't bring a video camera with me or any food or drinks (both were supposed
to be banned). I noticed later however, that people all around me successfully brought video cameras with them and some smart parents were able to keep sippy cups and juice boxes for their children. If I go next year, I will not be such a stickler for rules. If I hadn't thrown away the juice box I had in my purse before we got to security, our day would have run much smoother.
After we got through security, another *huge* line
Waiting for Dad to bring water.
I'm a little like the neighbor Wilson on the show Home Improvement. I'm not a fan of posting my picture online.
formed on the other side of the Ellipse which would lead us onto the White House lawn. We waited in that line for another hour. One of the highlights of the day was listening to the DJ they had playing music for the kids while we waited. My husband took my children over to the stage and they danced to songs like Michael Jackson's Thriller. The DJ said he was from Chicago, but I forget his name. He was very entertaining. Unfortunately, my kids worked up quite a sweat on that stage and there was no shade, and no water.
In previous years, there has been an entertainer on the Ellipse and free snacks and beverages offered. I didn't have to worry about bringing my own to offer thirsty children. As a mom of young kids (who tries to learn from her mistakes), I will definitely try to sneak juice boxes and Cheerios past security next year.
4. The Main Event-
Our ticket time was for 3-5pm, but we didn't get admitted to the White House grounds until 3:23. Thankfully, they didn't make us wait longer than that, because the crowd was getting restless. I found the time
delay surprising; usually the Egg Roll runs like a well oiled machine. By the time we got in there, my children were tired from all the walking and dying of thirst.
This event was mobbed. The kids grew crankier by the minute because I couldn't solve their thirst problem. I stood in line for the Egg Roll event while my husband watched them try yoga. By the time our turn came for the egg roll, my youngest was crying and refused to participate.
Two out of my three children rolled eggs. Then we took a picture in front of the White House and decided it was time to go. We were on our way towards the exit when we spotted someone holding a water bottle.
I made a comment to her about how lucky she was to be able to sneak in something to drink. She told me she got it from the First Aid station! Hallelujah! I sent my husband off to find the First Aid station where he was able to secure water to take the edge off my irritated kids. We still had to deal with the crowds though, and decided the remaining activities weren't worth it. That leads me to...
What can I say...it was just "meh." The main acts were Fergie and Ziggy Marley. We would have liked to have seen Fergie in person, but she was on earlier in the day and didn't make an appearance during our session (I did catch her on the news before we left). The White House didn't release an entertainment line-up until the day of the event, which is another departure from previous years. When I read the list of names this morning on the internet, I didn't recognize anyone other than the two I just mentioned. There was a notable absence of children's authors. As a teacher, I've always looked forward to which author would be there. I missed listening to the orchestra that used to play on the White House porch. Dressed in military uniforms, they always added a classy touch and made the event extra special.
6. Parting gifts-
The goody bag this year was mostly bag and very little goody. We received a bag with the offical egg, a commemorative ticket, and a small event program. This also was scaled down from previous years. 2008's goody bag contained a t-shirt, a poster, presidential book marks, stickers, postcards, White House coloring book, a hard cover children's book, a full sized event program, and a Paus egg coloring kit...that's just what I can remember off the top of my head.
Mothers; you will appreciate knowing there were bathrooms everywhere. Port a potties were located on the Ellipse, both before and after security. There were also regular bathrooms located on the White House grounds.
8. Ways this year was better-
When we arrived, we were given a schedule that showed exactly what was happening during our session and when. I found that very convenient. We were also given wrist bands this year which showed our exit time. In order to receive our commemorative egg, we needed to leave within 15 minutes of our exit time. I thought it was a great idea to encourage people to leave the grounds.
When we left the grounds, we stopped at McDonald's for dinner. It was packed with people from the egg roll. I asked one mother sitting next to me what she thought of the event and she summed it up perfectly. She said it was "her first and her last." It was nice to do once, but she didn't plan on coming back.
If this was my first year at the event, I would have said the same thing. It's neat to be that close to the White House, but it's a very draining experience. It was historic, and I'm well aware of how fortunate we were to be able to go, but the kids didn't have as much fun this time. If it hadn't been so crowded, we would have tried some more activities.
If you don't get a ticket for the egg roll next year, you might try visiting the White House Visitor's Center. They had an egg rolling activity set up in there with no line at all.
I hope that this information helps families who might try this event next year. I still believe all American children should go once to see what it's all about. And I'm interested in hearing reviews from others who went today. Did you find the process smooth? If it was your first time, did you enjoy it? Leave some comments and let me know...
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