The Washington Times - March 26, 2009, 06:36PM

The Obama White House’s first Easter Egg roll is a hot ticket today.



Visitors hoping to score an online confirmation that they can attend the April 13 egg roll on the White House South Lawn, a time-honored tradition dating back 130 years, were sometimes met with a Web page urging them to “Check back later.”


An aide from the First Lady’s office says people from 41 states have secured free tickets through the new online system, which went live today for the first time. Families used to have to line up on the Ellipse, something that will not happen this year.


The message at most points during the day was:


“The ticket demand for the 2009 White House Egg Roll has been very high. We apologize for any difficulty in reserving tickets. If you did not receive a confirmation page then you were not able to successfully secure tickets at that time. Tickets will be available at various times during the day through the online ticketing system. If you were unable to order tickets, please try back later today.”


“Been trying all day - it’s a vast Egg Roll conspiracy to drive toddler moms mad,” one Twitter user joked Thursday.


The aide tells me the tickets are not gone, and will still be available until later this evening at White (click here to give it a shot).


They didn’t have a statistic for how many tickets have been distributed yet, but estimated it would be more than the 22,000 in previous years.


Some tickets also will be distributed to D.C. public schools and military families, the aide said.


But some, including J.P. Randolph of Manassas, worried that non-Internet users were put at a disadvantage.


The First Lady’s aide said the online times that tickets will be available were staggered throughout the day “to coincide with library openings.”


The aide said that made the process fair, so that early risers or people with fast connections were not favored.


But Randolph said it seems the White House is not looking out for families without computers.


“If that’s not elitism I don’t know what is,” he said.


The White House is working with Web sites such as eBay and Craigslist to make sure that no one is attempting to sell tickets.


Also worth noting, the Obama White House is ending the practice of funding the event via corporate sponsorships.


Instead, the money will come entirely from leftover funds from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The First Lady’s office did not have a cost estimate.


This year’s theme is “Let’s go play,” and it encourages America’s youth to lead healthy and active lives, the White House said.


The Web site also directs people to the National Park Foundation to buy souvenir eggs bearing the president and first lady’s signatures.


 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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