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White House Easter Egg Roll highlights activity, nutrition

Children enjoy the Easter Egg Roll at the White House today. (The Hagstrom Report/Jerry Hagstrom)

By JERRY HAGSTROM

“Let’s go, let’s play, let’s move!,” First Lady Michelle Obama said today as she opened the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Accompanied by President Barack Obama and their daughters, the first lady noted in brief remarks from a White House balcony that the egg roll’s theme this year focuses on promoting health and wellness and encouraging children to lead healthy and active lives as part of her initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity.

The president’s only speaking role was to introduce the first lady, but he then led several groups of small children in rolling their eggs across the South Lawn. He also walked down to the South Lawn to view activities promoting promote healthy and active living. The activities include obstacle courses, dancing, playing sports with professional athletes, and of course, the traditional egg roll.

Michelle Obama was also scheduled to participate in a cooking demonstration with Marcus Samuelsson, the New York-based chef of Ethiopian-Swedish background who operates the Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem.

White House chefs and other guest chefs including Andrew Zimmern, Richard Blai, Paul Qui, Carla Hall, Pat and Gina Neely, and Bryan Voltaggio were also scheduled to prepare healthy eating demonstrations at the “Play with Your Food” station, the White House said in a news release. One of the play stations was titled a “Family Farmer’s Market,” a look at healthy eating with celebrity chef demo stations

A total of 4,500 hard-boiled and dyed eggs are being used between the egg roll and the egg hunt, with an additional 4,500 hard-boiled eggs provided for the egg dying station on the South Lawn. The White House also has “chirping eggs” for visually impaired visitors during the egg hunt.

An official souvenir wooden egg is being given to all children at the event age 13 and younger. They were made in four colors – purple, blue, orange, and green – and included the stamped signatures of the president and first lady. For the first time, there is an additional red egg stamped with the paw print of Bo, the Obama’s dog.

The National Park Foundation produces and sells the souvenir White House Easter eggs, which were crafted in the United States from Forest Stewardship Council-certified hardwood. The egg packaging was made from Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) – certified paperboard that uses no wood fibers from controversial sources such as illegal logging and fiber sourced from areas without effective social laws.

The Easter Egg Roll is the largest annual public event at the White House, and 36,000 guests were expected, a U.S. Secret Service official told reporters.