Lil’ Man and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the White House and seeing it up close was absolutely surreal. I had tried to obtain tickets through the National Park Service’s lottery, but luck wasn’t with me this time. It was my husband who managed to snag up the tickets through his work. Unfortunately we found out shortly after he applied for the lottery that he would be on TDY (temporary duty) and unable to attend the event with us. Lucky for me, Lil’ Man was on his best behavior and other than wanting to constantly be picked up, he made solo parenting at this event quite manageable.
If you manage to be amongst the lucky ones who acquire tickets for a future egg roll, be prepared to arrive an hour before your allotted start time. There are thousands of people attending this event, so there is a lot of waiting in line (think an amusement park in the middle of summer vacation). After passing through the security checkpoint, we then stood in line to enter the White House grounds.
Also note that cameras are permitted, but I opted not to bring my DSLR camera since it is quite cumbersome and I didn’t have my husband to help me. By the end of the event, I had a child in one arm and a sizable goodie bag in the other.
Photo Ops in Front of the White House
From the time we got in line and up to the South Lawn, it took us about 40 minutes. Once we made our way through the entrance, we immediately stood in two more lines for photo ops with the White House as our backdrop. Volunteers are on hand to take pictures of you with your kids. We also managed to come across some strangers who were sweet enough to take a few pictures of us together when volunteers were not available. The first photo op has a pint-sized podium for the kids and the second features a large picture frame for group photos.
Operation Thank Our Troops
This activity is new this year and was my personal favorite. My son has been fortunate enough that he has yet to experience his father deploying. My husband deployed twice before Lil’ Man was born and is expected to deploy again while we are stationed here in Virginia. Lil’ Man couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of the activity, but I explained to him that some kids’ parents have to go away for work just like daddy, but for a much longer time.
The volunteers gave each child a bunny-themed coloring page with a space to write a short message. Lil’ Man happily colored part of the page and managed to write out “thank you”. My husband has received several thank you cards and letters from children in the past. Know that these sentiments are greatly appreciated by families like ours.
There were quite a few costumed characters for photo ops. Lil’ Man was not interested in this as he is still traumatized from his first, and what I assume at this point is his last, picture with the Easter Bunny. The characters I saw in attendance included:
- The Easter Bunny
- Peppa Pig
- The Cat in the Hat
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia
Prior to our arrival, Lil’ Man was eager to participate in this activity and was dead set on winning. We had a talk beforehand that it wasn’t a race and how we can’t win all of the time. Unfortunately winning is everything to a preschooler. Our little talk didn’t curtail his disappointment when he was the last to finish as he struggled to get his egg across the lawn. He emphatically told me afterwards, “I will never do that again!”
This year White House staffers took turns reading stories to the kids. I personally enjoyed this touch as I liked that they were performing a service to their community and interacting with the people that they serve. There are blankets for the children to sit on as well as benches in the back. Parents of older children were asked to stand outside of the fenced-in area so that more kids could be accommodated. Lil’ Man enjoyed the story time, but he was disappointed that it was not the First Lady who read to him.
Lil’ Man had wanted to decorate a cookie, but by the time we reached that station they were out of cookies for our group. We decided to head over to the egg dying station instead. Each child receives one egg to dye and Lil’ Man of course chose to make his blue since that is his favorite color.
Kitchen Garden Coloring Wall
This was the last activity we did before our exit was announced and the mural had been pretty well scribbled over prior to our arrival. Lil’ Man had fun adding what he said was a balloon.
During our time at the White House, Bro 4 and various bands from the armed forces performed. Lil’ Man and I aren’t into boy bands, so we did not watch Bro 4 perform. I did see a number of kids queuing up to get their picture with them as we were exiting the premises.
The military musicians are phenomenal and their talent is not to be underestimated because they aren’t celebrity performers. We attended last December’s National Tree Lighting Ceremony and my husband and I agreed that the USAF Band was the best performance of the night. The singers have amazing voices and I have yet to hear them go off key while singing. The band played Disney songs from the Truman Balcony which made Lil’ Man quite happy (I caught him singing a few times).
You will have to forgive the shaky video above, but Lil’ Man was at the point where his short legs could no longer carry him. I was left to film with only one hand.
Honestly, there was a lot more to see and do there. It was just impossible to do all of the activities in the time allotted. Lil’ Man would have enjoyed the Hopping for Minecraft game coding activity, but I couldn’t find it. Also, children ages 5-13 had the opportunity to practice their tennis and soccer skills with professional athletes. Too bad Lil’ Man is two months shy of his fifth birthday!
This event is operated by volunteers. I can’t thank these people enough for making sure that thousands of children had a wonderful day. If you do attend a future egg roll, make sure to let these people know you appreciate their hard work!
We stood in another line just to exit! It honestly was not too bad given the chaos of handing out goodie bags to thousands of children. The goodie bags are for children ages 3-13 and included the following:
- Official White House Souvenir Wooden Egg (no they do not get to choose the color)
- 2 Kinex Toys
- Sweet Treats (Peeps and M&M’s)
- Souvenir Ticket
- Egg Dying Kit
- Coloring Book
- 16 x 20 Print of the Official 2017 Easter Egg Roll Art
Lil’ Man enjoyed all of his goodies and immediately set to work building his Kinex kits when we got home.
While souvenir eggs are not given to the adults in attendance, they are available to purchase after the event. The White House Historical Society sells them just beyond the goody bag line. My husband had wanted a gold egg for his office, so I found myself standing in another line. I purchased him the entire set for $34.99. (I suspect Lil’ Man will misplace his egg at some point, so it is good to have a back up!)
We had a great time and it was amazing to be so close to the White House! Lil’ Man said he would like to go again if given the opportunity. He just really wants it known that he would not participate in the egg roll again and that if you are attending with a young child, you should know that they might finish last. (He is seriously telling me all this as I type this paragraph.) For the most part, everyone attending was very polite and the children were very patient about waiting in line. This is a great nonpartisan event for the children and Lil’ Man and I recommend attending if you can secure tickets. Take it from this nonpartisan, put politics aside for the day and bring the kids to enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Future White House Events
White House Garden Tours
If you are in the vicinity this weekend, the White House gardens will be open to the public from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and 10:00 am to 2:30 pm on Sunday. You can get more information here on how to obtain free timed tickets.
National Tree Lighting Ceremony
We were fortunate enough to attend President Obama’s last National Tree Lighting Ceremony in December. Come this October/November, I will be posting about our experience as well as tips for attending and how to get tickets.