Stop, Drop And (Egg) Roll: The White House Easter Egg Roll Over Time

Published April 2, 2015
Updated March 16, 2021

The White House Easter Egg Roll, which now brings over 35,000 people to the White House, is a rich tradition that's existed for more than a century.

White House Easter Egg Roll

Easter is just a few days away, and with it comes the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme is #GimmeFive, a challenge that’s meant to honor the fifth anniversary of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! program. On April 6, 2015, more than 35,000 people will gather at the White House to celebrate this tradition that spans more than a century.

White House Egg Roll In 1898

Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, all the way back in 1898.

1921 Egg Roll at White House

A snapshot of children at the Easter Egg Roll in 1921.

Easter Egg Roll 1923

Warren G. Harding was president during the 1923 Easter Egg Roll.

Though people had been participating in egg-rolling events for much of the 1800s, the official White House Easter Egg Roll didn’t begin until 1878. Organized games, egg-rolling races, petting zoos, performances, cooking demonstrations, Easter egg hunts and maypole dances have all been part of the Egg Roll over the past century.

Maypole Dancing

Maypole dancing was once a Egg Roll tradition. Source: Linkza

Easter 1929 at White House

Children roll around on the White House lawn during the 1929 Easter Egg Roll. Source: Wikipedia

White House Egg Roll History

The White House makes for a pretty backdrop at the Egg Roll. Source: Ghosts of DC

The Easter Egg Roll celebration remains one of the country’s largest free public events—so large, in fact, that tickets are now distributed via an online lottery. Usually the President and First Lady, along with their children, grandchildren, and pets all attend the event. Of course, the Easter Bunny—aka a White House staffer in a bunny outfit—is always in attendance.

1961 Egg Roll at the White House

The 1961 event was hosted by the Kennedy family. Source: Our Presidents

1980 White House Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny back in the 1980s. Source: Town and Country

The White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll since its official inception, though during World War I, World War II, and the Truman renovation of the White House, the event was either canceled or held elsewhere. One time the Egg Roll took place at the National Zoo.

Clintons and the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny poses with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In addition to the Easter Egg Roll, the White House also releases a limited number of keepsake eggs—a tradition that dates back to 1981, when Ronald Reagan and his wife hosted a special Easter egg hunt that used wooden eggs emblazoned with the signatures of famous actors, politicians, and athletes.

Keepsake Egg White House

A keepsake egg from the 2012 Easter Egg Roll.

Obama at Easter Egg Roll

President Obama helps a little girl roll her Easter egg.

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.