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The White House Easter Egg Roll Used to Get a Little Crazy

Photo courtesy of the White House Historical Association

Photo courtesy of the White House Historical Association

The White House Easter Egg Roll has been happening since 1878, thanks to President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy Hayes, who hated liquor but still enjoyed a party.

Hope she enjoyed rabble, too, because those early White House Easter Egg Rolls got a little bit crazy, judging by these old photos. The thing looks less like a celebration of Easter and more like Andrew Jackson inviting 20,000 citizens to the White House for some whiskey-laced punch in 1829.

white-house-easter-egg-roll-rabble

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Here some street urchins prepare to melee in 1929, as bloodthirsty flappers look on. Well, there was a Depression on; what’s a few broken bones when lunch is at stake?

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

This police officer arrested a troublemaking urchin in 1929. Or possibly he was rescuing a lost child frightened by the brouhaha. Who can be sure?

Girls dance around a maypole at the White House Easter Egg Roll

White House Historical Association

Still, it wasn’t all mobs, as this excellent Egg Roll through the years photo gallery from the White House Historical Association shows. There were also maypoles!

White House Historical Association

White House Historical Association

The White House Easter Egg Roll really does involve rolling eggs, which is not an intuitive act. Some say it is “connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ‘s tomb when he was resurrected,” which sounds a lot like somebody in the church office stretching to make a crazy activity sound perfectly respectable for Sunday School class.

These days the White House Easter Egg Roll is less freewheeling and more instructive. Last year President Obama promoted reading by sharing Where the Wild Things Are with gathered kids.

Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

Official White House Photo (2015) by Amanda Lucidon

The First Lady also promoted her #GimmeFive fitness program. It was all very healthy and practical-minded. No whiskey-laced punch was served.

Photo of The Easter Bunny

Carrie Devorah / WENN

…although anyone might feel a little bit Elwood P. Dowd-ish after seeing a 6-foot Easter Bunny at the event. When even the Easter Bunny is pledging allegiance to the flag, maybe it’s time for a little less organization and more whimsy after all.

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  • I still can’t decide how to feel about the Easter Bunny pledging allegiance to the American flag. On the one hand, he (she?) is a fictional figure who isn’t really bound to a particular country or to patriotism in general. Would Santa Claus pledge allegiance to the flag? That would be weird, unless it was the flag of the North Pole.

    On the other hand, if the Easter Bunny is just being a polite guest and “When in Rome” and so forth, I can accept that.

    “…One egg, indivisible, with happiness and chocolate for all.”