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White House Welcomes Children for Easter Egg Roll - 2002-04-01

President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, hosted tens of thousands of children Monday for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. It is one of the oldest presidential traditions.

On the day of the Easter Egg Roll, the White House south lawn is transformed into a giant playground filled with the sounds of music and children.

Since 1878, American presidents have welcomed children to the White House on Easter Monday for a day of games and entertainment. President Bush opened this year's event from a large balcony, where he was able to look out at the crowd.

"You know, one the things children say to me all the time is 'I want to come see your home, Mr. President. I say to them 'this isn't our home, this is your home!' And you are welcome to the yard of your home! We are so glad you are here!" Mr. Bush said.

The event has long featured races in which children roll decorated Easter eggs with spoons. Over the years, other games have been added and these days it is a rather elaborate affair with bands and entertainers.

This year, there is an emphasis on books and reading, with special areas where small children can listen to stories. "We want to encourage you to read a lot. As a matter of fact, we think it is important that you read more than you watch TV," the President said.

In 2001, heavy rains prompted the White House to move the Easter Monday festivities indoors. This time, there is perfect weather for the estimated 40,000 children and parents taking part in the annual egg roll.