WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump kicked off the annual Easter Egg Roll Monday — the White House’s biggest social event of the year.
“I want to wish everybody a very happy Easter,” Trump said, addressing the crowd from the Truman Balcony, where he was joined by first lady Melania Trump and a bespectacled bunny character.
He also talked about his administration’s investments in the military, saying, “it is being rebuilt to a level we have never seen before.”
Trump later blew a whistle that began an egg roll on the South Lawn — one of many activities organized for the 30,000 adults and children who will stream through the gates all day.
The president and first lady are scheduled to host the White House Easter Egg Roll at 11 a.m. EST. Watch live in the video player above.
The main event is the traditional rolling of hard-boiled eggs across the lawn, but the first lady has announced two new additions to the lineup of festivities: musical eggs and a game of hopscotch named for her “Be Best” children’s initiative.
There’s also a nook where Mrs. Trump and other officials will read storybooks and a station for kids to make greeting cards to send to U.S. troops.
The White House Easter Egg Roll dates back to 1878, when then-President Rutherford Hayes opened the South Lawn after Congress banned children from playing on the Capitol grounds.
The event took place nearly every year since, with the exception of a hiatus from 1943 to 1952 because of World War II, food conservation efforts and construction.
The festivities, which now include music and a person dressed up as the Easter Bunny, were first broadcast live on the internet in 1998, according to the White House Historical Association.
The PBS NewsHour produced the White House Easter Egg Roll video, and the NewsHour’s Gretchen Frazee contributed additional reporting.