If no world crisis erupts on Monday, President Obama could have some fun, taking in the White House Easter Egg Roll with first lady Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha in the morning then throwing out the first pitch at the Nationals-Phillies home opener at Nationals Park.
The first family's back yard -- the South Lawn -- will be transformed into a carnival grounds with tween heartthrobs and Hollywood stars, sports heroes, celebrity chefs and more in an event officially hosted by Mrs. Obama. The theme for Monday is "Ready, Set, Go!" -- playing off Mrs. Obama's campaign to reduce childhood obesity, which is called "Let's Move." And even though the emphasis is on healthy eating, the goody bags will include Hershey's chocolates.
Some of the bigger names participating in the event: Justin Bieber, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Reese Witherspoon, the cast from "Glee." Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, tennis champion Billie Jean King and Billy Jonas, a musician who grew up across the alley from the Obama family when they lived in a condo in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.
The musical performances will be streamed live at www.whitehouse.gov/eastereggroll
. Here's the schedule of performances;
remarks from the first couple are scheduled for 10:45 a.m.
Some 30,000 people from all 50 states are expected Monday, carrying on a tradition started in 1878 under President Rutherford B. Hayes. Between 7:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., groups of 6,000 will be cycled through security and let loose on the South Lawn for two hours.
I covered the huge event last year and the children seemed to have a ball. There were a lot of activity stations where kids could eat, read and play sports with stars on hand to add some extra sparkle. Obama even mugged with the Easter Bunny and shot baskets with boys and girls on the White House basketball court.
Former President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon were the first to add Mr. Bunny to the mix.
The Easter Egg Roll is the largest White House event each year. It's also the first major event for the new White House social secretary, Julianna Smoot, who joined the East Wing on March 22. Planning for the egg roll started last January, under the previous White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers.
The White House is a big draw for performers, and a host of them will participate Monday, including the U.S. Marine Corps Band.
This is the second year the tickets were distributed online. In 2009 the Obamas changed the old system -- where people lined up for tickets -- because it limited the ability of out-of-towners to attend. Some 250,000 applied for tickets in an online lottery.
Not all the 30,000 got tickets through the lottery. Some 4,000 tickets were set aside for military families and 3,000 were allocated for students from Washington area schools.
The White House has also made tickets available through other groups, though it doesn't like to highlight which ones. I've asked for a list. The Pakistan American Public Affairs Committee, for example, was given 12 tickets to distribute. Last year, the White House reached out to gay parents with a handful of tickets.
Here's the complete list of stars and celebrities scheduled to attend:
- Sara Bareilles, Justin Bieber, the casts of the television shows "Glee," "Yo Gabba Gabba" and "Sesame Street," and Little Beat, The #1 Chinchilla and DJ Willy Wow! will perform on the Rock 'n' Egg Roll Stage
- J.K. Rowling, Reese Witherspoon, Apolo Ohno, Mariska Hargitay, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, Elmo and Maria of "Sesame Street" and Betty DeGeneres will read on the Storytime Stage
- Billy Jonas and Miss Amy will perform on the Ellipse
- Chefs Art Smith, José Andrés, Cliff Wharton, Nora Poullion, Robert Wiedmaier, Susan Limb, Victor Albisu, and the White House's own chefs will prepare healthy eating demonstrations in the Play With Your Food station.
- Games in the sports zones will be organized with the help of Billie Jean King, Gigi Fernandez, Ilana Kloss, Delaney Rudd, Liezel Huber, Katrina Adams, Anna Rawson, Jane Geddes, Kris Tschetter, Martin Gramatica, Michele Smith, Al Bumbry and Earl Boykins.
- NFL players will lead children in healthy activities as a part of the NFL Play 60 program. Those participating include Washington Redskins players Kevin Barnes, Alvin Bowen, Derrick Dockery, Reed Doughty, Chris Horton, Marko Mitchell, Will Robinson, Casey Rabach, Justin Tryon, Edwin Williams, Anthony Montgomery, Lorenzo Alexander, H.B. (Horatio Benedict) Blades and Doug Dutch, along with Baltimore Ravens players Matt Lawrence and Sam Koch.