WASHINGTON - At the White House, you could feel the anticipation: thousands of energetic children eager to play in the presidential family's garden.
"Hello, everybody. Well, happy Easter. We are so blessed to have
this beautiful day and to have so many friends in our backyard.'' President Barack Obama told the crowd.
In this 137th edition of the annual Easter Egg roll, the Obama family played with the young guests who enthusiastically participated in the famed hunt for colorful eggs.
Kicking off the annual event Monday, Obama used the occasion to tout the fifth anniversary of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get kids to eat healthy and exercise.
The theme of this year's egg roll is #GimmeFive. Event participants were encouraged to identify five ways they plan to be more active and live healthier lives. This year there were over 300,000 requests for tickets.
"And for those of you who don't know about the Gimme Five challenge, that's the fun, exciting way that we're trying to get the whole country to celebrate the fifth birthday of 'Let's Move'," Mrs. Obama explained.
"We're asking Americans of all ages to give me five ways they're leading a healthier life -- five jumping jacks, eating five new vegetables, maybe doing a Gimme Five dance. You name it. And go on and Instagram it, #GimmeFive, and then challenge somebody else. We've had so much fun doing this challenge. Beyonce has done it. Michael Strahan [former New York Giants football player] has done it.''
The Easter egg roll draws tens of thousands of people to the White House South Lawn each year. Standing alongside the Easter bunny, Obama described it as "one of our favorite events.''
Monday's festivities included sports and fitness zones, cooking demonstrations, and of course, the traditional egg roll. President Obama also did his annual reading of the book "Where The Wild Things Are.''
Among the celebrity participants were actress Connie Britton, popular chef Bobby Flay and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The egg roll is one of the longest-standing White House traditions. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes opened the White House grounds to local children for egg rolling.
35,000 children attended this year's event.
Some information for this report came from AP.