Chicago Sun-Times
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At the White House Easter Egg roll, Obama plays coach; Fergie sings


get-attachment-7.aspx.jpeg (AP photo)

WASHINGTON--Under cool but sunny skies Easter bunnies and thousands of families from across the nation--including the Obamas-- played on the South Lawn of the White House Monday at the annual Easter Egg Roll. Fergie from Black Eyed Peas performed.

"It is wonderful to see all of you today. Welcome. I hope everybody had a wonderful Easter. This is one of the greatest White House traditions because it reminds us that this is the people's house. And to see so many children out here having a great time just fills Michelle and myself and the entire family with a whole lot of joy." President Obama said

"So I'm not really in charge here today. My sole job, in addition to thanking Fergie for that wonderful rendition of our National Anthem and thanking my buddy, the Easter Bunny, for being here, is to introduce my First Lady, your First Lady, Michelle Obama."

Mrs. Obama said, "Our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We've got yoga, we've got dancing, we've got storytelling, we've got Easter egg decorating. Oh, we've got basketball a little soccer, as well. And we want everybody to think about moving their bodies, get out -- we don't have tennis; it's on the tennis court -- the peanut gallery back here.

"So the goal today is to have fun, to get out and play."

I was part of the extended print pool. My report at the click.

Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times

This is a report from the extended print pool covering three Easter Egg Roll stations:

1. The Obama family at the actual egg roll event--where eggs are rolled on the White House south lawn.

2. President Obama at the sports court (the White House tennis court) where the basketball loving president played coach helping kids shoot hoops. He shoot a few balls himself.

Highlights: The president picks up a young boy and lifts him towards the basket so he can dunk. Sorry, no i.d.

Obama recognizes Jeniece Johnson, who plays for the H.D. Woodson (Washington D.C.) high school basketball team. Johnson, 18, and 6'6 was featured in a March 8 Washington Post story about how basketball let her pull her life together.

3. A music stage, where Fergie performed while First Lady Michelle Obama, First Mother Marian Robinson and Malia watched. (could not see if Sasha was there.)


When the First Family, with White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers enters the egg roll station at 10:30 a.m., a bunch of children are already positioned to play. Daughters Malia and Sasha line themselves up at an end lane. Mrs. Obama stands at the side, watching.

"This is big," President Obama said, holding a whistle to start the race.

Obama whispers something to Malia, who seems intent on helping her younger sister, Sasha.

He talks to other children in the race

Some of the children are very young. Obama explains, "On your marks. When I blow the whistle, that's when you start."

The Obama sisters roll their eggs slowly and with care down their lane. They seem intent on playing well but at a pace that will let other kids come in first.

President Obama helps a toddler along the way to the finish line. Mrs. Obama claps.

The First Family poses with some of the children at the finish line while White House photographer Pete Souza snaps away.

Departs egg roll station at 10:35 a.m.

Obama hands off his whistle.

Mrs. Obama and Sasha leave with arms around each other as an Easter Bunny hovers nearby.


The extended pool walks past the new White House gym set to the tennis court.

Two portable, height adjustable baskets are set up. Players from Woodson's womens team are helping the kids shoot hoops.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a basketball playing buddy of President Obama, is in the crowd. A tieless Vice President Biden enters 10:47 a.m. as play continues. A minute later, when Obama enters with Rogers by his side, play stops as people quickly realize the president has arrived.

"How's everybody doing out here," Obama says.

At one of the baskets, the president is shaking hands with the girls from Woodson, when he spots number 50. "Didn't I just see a story about you in the newspaper?" Obama says to Johnson. Obama is recalling the March story in the Post.

He poses and shakes hands with the team.

Your pooler saw the president take three shots (he may have made one or two more) and was observed making two misses and one basket.

Obama tells a youngster he wants to "see you shoot a little game." Tells another "he's got good form." Encourages a kid who misses to "keep on going till you make it."

One small boy got special attention from the president. Obama lifted up the youngster, extending his arms to lift him high enough so that the boy dunked the ball in the basket.

Obama, concerned that no girls were lining up to shoot, asked, "where are the ladies?" That brought some young girls up. He told one, "you gonna be a star some day." He high-fived a few kids.


White House Visitor Center Director Ellie Schafer introduces Fergie.

Michelle and her mom are near the front. Your pooler cannot see them in person; they--plus Malia-- are shown on a big tv screen at times digging the music while Fergie is singing.

"'Was up Washington D.C.?" Fergie asks.

Fergie tells the crowd that in high school, "I fell in love with all the wrong boys."

Though it was morning, Fergie said, "Thank you to my new friends the Obamas for having me here tonight."

Fergie with backup crew performed several numbers including "Big Girls Don't Cry."

Show over at 11:24 a.m.

Lynn Sweet

Apr 13, 2009 12:12 PM

Happy Easter Monday, all.

Nice day for the White House Easter Egg Roll. Cloudy but no rain and nice

The "President's Own" Marine Band began setting up on the South balcony of the
White House at 9:57 a.m., three minutes before President Obama was supposed to
appear. By 10, the band was warming up, with a few chromatic scales and
arpeggios from the clarinets and a few always-present high notes from the
trumpet section.

A few cymbal crashes and drum hits signaled the beginning of the band's set at
10:02. Hundreds of people were waiting behind small green, wooden fences on the
South Lawn in front of the White House. Most had their cameras ready, and many
were decked out in white Easter Roll hats and aprons.

The band played a series of medleys that included songs like "Mary Had a a
Little Lamb" and "Pop Goes the Weasel."

The Vice President and Dr. Biden came out onto the balcony at 10:20, with the
Easter Bunny, complete with its large, purple eyelids. The announcer called the
bunny the Bidens' "special guest." Two of Sasha and Malia's friends were
standing in the press area. When the Bidens came out with the bunny, one of the
girls said, "Why did he bring the bunny?"

The President, First Lady, Sasha, Malia and Marian Robinson appeared on the
balcony at about 10:22. They were joined by Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, who
sang the National Anthem.

Fergie was wearing a long, white coat. Mrs. Obama was wearing a blue cropped
jacket, green scarf and what appeared to be an orange shirt along with blue and
white pinstriped capri pants and silver shoes. The President was wearing a
casual black jacket, white button-down shirt and gray slacks. Malia was wearing
a navy blue and light blue striped sweater, blue and gray shirt and blue pants
with white tennis shoes. Sasha was wearing a blue headband, black jacket, purple
skirt and hot pink tights with black and white tennis shoes.

After the Anthem, the President gave Fergie a hug and went to the mic, shouting
a good morning greeting that was only half heard. The mic went out. As he tried
to figure it out, Michelle waved to the crowd and smiled to keep them
entertained. They cheered. Mr. Obama lifted one of the Easter bunny's ears and
spoke into it.

Malia walked up to the mic and asked if it was working. It was. The crowd
cheered again.

Mr. Obama said, "That's Malia, our technical adviser." He said the Easter Roll
"reminds us that this is the people's house."

Mr. Obama said his main job was to introduce Mrs. Obama, who gave a brief
run-down of some of the day's events, including yoga, dancing and basketball. At
the mention of basketball, the President gave a thumbs up.

Mrs. Obama said the main goal of the day is "to just have fun. "

More on story time and Fergie concert coming soon.

Hailey R. Branson
The Houston Chronicle


Did anyone actually have fun? We waited in lines for hours only to be ushered out before we had a chance to do anything but take a few pictures in front of the White House. Ridiculous. Why did they have to change a good thing? It was a disaster!

The White House Easter Egg Roll was such a great event. Families from all over the country were allowed to participate. Kids were laughing, rolling down hills, arts and crafts, listening to great music, searching for Easter Eggs, talking to the Easter Bunny and many PBS characters.
We had a blast and understand that for security reasons, you just have to wait in line to get thru. 2 hours was plenty of play time.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 13, 2009 1:54 PM.

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