“Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an ‘egg roll’ party…one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolly Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol.”
I myself was never big on Easter egg hunts—or Easter egg rolls, or whatever you want to call them.
I think I had one, maybe two Easter egg hunts for my poor, neglected children. It was hard enough for me to get my mind around the whole Santa Claus thing, not to mention a giant pink rabbit that came in the night and somehow dropped painted eggs.
When I was a kid myself, I remember one Easter when my sister and I got tiny live baby chicks in our baskets.
It didn’t end well.
So with all of that said, I have hardly even been aware of—let alone cared much about—the White House’s Easter Egg Roll or, what has been referred to as:
“The single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, [with] the White House and the First Lady judged on how well they put it on.” ~ Melinda Bates
Of course, the woman making that claim is the one who organized eight years of Easter Egg Rolls for President Bill Clinton.
So she might have been over-invested—organizing the Easter Egg Roll is probably not as big a deal as resolving national healthcare issues or cutting billions of dollars out of the budget or even building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
But then, maybe it is?
Maybe, if you want to be ungracious, or downright critical and judgmental, you can use the White House’s Easter Egg Roll as an example of the style and modus operandi of this administration: unpredictable, disorganized, unreliable, and not seeming to care for previous policies, institutions, or long-held rituals.
After all, it’s a presidency in which the First Lady isn’t even around to plan such an event.
To be fair however, no matter how we perceive the motivation behind the White House Easter egg roll, when we don’t really know the facts, we tend to invent the so-called “facts” ourselves.
This used to be called “making assumptions.”
In other words, we make assumptions that the Egg Roll is what The New York Times calls “a window into the inner workings of the Trump administration.” That it is a White House that, because it is “plagued by slow hiring and lack of an on-site First Lady, cannot manage to pull off the largest, most elaborate and most heavily scrutinized public event of the year.”
The Times’ scrutiny aside, let’s not make assumptions. Let’s be fair.
It’s possible that the Easter Egg Roll isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to what the current White House feels it should be paying attention to.
It’s also possible that the whole Easter Egg Roll thing has gotten out of hand.
Consider the following: “Demand to attend [the 2016 Easter Egg Roll] was so great that more than 35,000 tickets were distributed by public lottery. [The] event featured a musical performance by Idina Menzel, cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, sports clinics, a yoga garden and the first-ever White House Fun Run.”
Who pays for all that? And why? And what exactly is a “yoga garden?”
Maybe, like Ellie Schafer, who organized the Easter Egg Rolls for the Obamas, people are overstating its importance.
“Every administration tries to put its own stamp on [the Easter egg roll], but the stakes are high because it’s such a Washington tradition and people just love it and have very strong feelings about it…If you can organize a White House Easter egg roll, you can do anything.” ~ Ellie Schafer
If you ask me, an Easter Egg Roll for 20,000 people is enough.
An option would be to let this particular White House’s Easter Egg Roll be what it is, the size it is, and as last-minute and spontaneous as it is, instead of comparing it to past Easter Egg Rolls for the purpose of finding something else to be critical of.
Maybe it’s The New York Times that should be focusing on more important things.
One thing you can count on for sure is that of the 20,000 people who are expected to attend this year’s Easter Egg Roll, most of them will have had a good time.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Callie Rushton