It's a tradition that dates back to the 19th century and the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, but it's unclear if the White House's annual Easter celebration is a priority for the Trump administration. According to a report published by The New York Times on Tuesday, the White House's preparations for the annual Easter Egg Roll have fallen far behind this year. With less than a week until the event takes place, there's reason to expect fewer attendees and fewer wooden eggs than in previous years.
Every spring, the Easter Egg Roll brings children and families to the White House for a day full of themed activities. There are games, visits from the Easter Bunny and other familiar characters, and — of course — an opportunity to interact with the First Family. Tickets usually go to students at local Washington, D.C. schools, military families, and constituents selected by members of Congress. Attendees typically receive a commemorative keepsake in the form of a wooden egg, which can also be purchased from the White House Historical Association. While the event is expected to take much of the traditional format again this year, the Trump administration's planning process seems to leave many of the details to the imagination.
According to the Times, the White House ordered just 40,000 commemorative eggs, compared with the 85,000 eggs ordered in 2016. White House officials reportedly told the Times that part of the reason for the smaller order was due to timing. The eggs weren't ordered until early March, limiting the amount of time available for manufacturing. Perhaps also due to delayed planning, the number of attendees is expected to drop this year to 20,000 people from 37,000 people last year.
It's not yet clear who those 20,000 people will be. Although the event takes place in less than a week — on Easter Monday, to be exact — the tickets had apparently not been distributed to the usual schools, military groups, and members of Congress by Tuesday. Given the controversy over this year's inauguration crowd size, you'd think the Trump administration would feel a sense of urgency to make sure the event is well-attended.
As the largest annual public event at the White House, people have been wondering about the Easter Egg Roll for a while. In February, The Washington Post reported that a search for the event on the White House's website returned no results. Local parents who had been accustomed to entering the White House's lottery for Easter Egg Roll tickets had no lottery to enter and no idea what to expect from this year's event.
The White House has since added a page about this year's Easter Egg Roll to its website. Although it's unclear when the page went up, the information included confirms that the event will take place on Monday, complete with a live-stream online. The page does not offer any information about a ticket lottery or schedule of events.
With tensions heightening in Syria and the Korean Peninsula, there may be more pressing issues for the Trump administration to attend to than the Easter Egg Roll. But for a country deeply divided in the wake of President Trump's election, a fun-spirited event that is centered around children could be just what the administration needs.