- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

Hundreds of children yesterday came bundled against winterlike temperatures to participate in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

The event, started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, is considered a rite of spring in the region. But yesterday, it was held amid gusting winds and temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Undaunted by the weather, the young guests sprang into action under the watchful eyes of their families, hostess first lady Laura Bush and several Bush administration Cabinet secretaries.

“In Washington, we know spring has arrived when the White House lawn is filled with children for the Easter Egg Roll, one of the happiest traditions here at the White House,” said Mrs. Bush.

Children competing in the egg-roll races pushed eggs across a stretch of grass using giant spoons. The festivities also included an egg hunt, musical performances, reading, magicians and face painting.

About 7,200 eggs were available for the races. In addition, 3,000 dyed eggs were used for the egg hunt and 4,200 were boiled for children to dye.

After Mrs. Bush’s welcome, she sat and read “Duck for President,” by Doreen Cronin. It’s a story of a duck who gets sick of farm chores and decides to run for office — first for head of the farm, then governor and, finally, president. In the end, the duck decides running the country is too much work and goes back to the farm.

More than 18,000 tickets for the 2007 festivities were distributed. The event’s theme — health and fitness — encouraged children to get out and exercise every day to prevent childhood obesity.

Each child got to take away a commemorative White House wooden Easter egg, an activity coloring book, a White House bookmark, a children’s book, piece of candy, commemorative poster and a “My American Journal” booklet.

Across from the White House, several activists at Lafayette Park hunted for brightly colored tennis balls in an alternative “Easter cluster bomb hunt,” intended to dramatize that many areas of the globe, such as South Lebanon, are not safe for children because of persistent fighting and unexploded munitions.

“What we’re really trying to get across is that all children should be able to have fun like this and not be worried about getting blown up,” said Brian Hennessey from the Vineeta Foundation, one of the organizers.

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