Easter Monday at the National Zoo, 1900s

Easter Monday at the National Zoo, 1900s

It’s geo-diverse, egalitarian, green, internet-savvy, kid-focused, yoga- and gay-friendly this year, giving us some insight into Michelle’s family values & leadership philosophy. If you’re a lucky attendee, please do send us your photos and stories.

NY Times Politics & Government Blog:

Kid yoga classes, dance workshops and a performance by musician Fergie are a few of the activities planned for the approximately 30,000 people expected to attend the White House Easter Egg Roll today.

Time Magazine:

More than 100 same-sex couples showed up at the event in 2006 with their children in an organized effort to show President Bush “that gay families exist in this country,” in the words of one organizer; critics accused them of “crashing” the event. The Obamas specifically welcomed gay families this year, distributing tickets directly to gay rights organizations. Another innovation of the Obamas: this year’s souvenir egg is designed to be environmentally friendly, using vegetable oil-based ink and wood from “sustainably managed forests.”

Also for the first time, tickets to this year’s event were distributed over the Internet rather than via the first-come, first-served system that traditionally spawns serpentine lines of parents around Washington’s Ellipse. The switch was designed to encourage visitors from around the country — families from at least 45 states are expected to attend — though huge demand for tickets left many parents frustrated and empty-handed, despite spending hours in front of their computers. A reminder, perhaps, that this particular rite of spring is designed primarily for the enjoyment of children, not grown-ups.

It sure would be nice if the Obamas also stopped by the National Zoo which has special meaning for African-Americans. From Hello Negro:

The Easter Monday event started in 1891 when blacks were not allowed to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll (until the Dwight Eisenhower presidency).

From the Smithsonian blog:

Two decades after the White House began its Easter Egg Roll tradition in 1878, the National Zoo started one of its own. The event, which involved an Easter egg roll down the zoo’s Lion-Tiger Hill and a day of picnicking, became a hit, especially for DC-area African Americans, with attendance reaching a whopping 55,000 in 1919. Apparently, native Washingtonian Justine Love, at her 50th Easter Monday in 2003, said, “I always would ask [my father] why we couldn’t go to the White House to the Easter Egg roll, and he’d say because this activity is better for us.” The African American community claimed this event as their own, and it’s blossomed into a rich, multicultural celebration.

And why Easter Monday, instead of Sunday? According to a Washington Post article from 1986, in the early days of the event, many of Washington’s African Americans worked as servants and were given Easter Monday off.

This year’s Easter Monday promises an Easter egg hunt, a visit from the Easter bunny, games, arts and crafts and live entertainment from a West African storyteller, an a capella Gospel choir, a steel-drum band and a double-dutch jump-rope team. Of course, since it’s at the zoo, there are also animal training and feeding demonstrations. Festivities kick off at 10 a.m. and last until 4 p.m.

I grew up in DC but never went to either because for the White House: no connections and for the National Zoo, well both my parents have allergies! Again, if you’re a lucky attendee, please do send us your photos and stories. BTW y’all: I cam back from London as sick as a junkyard dog so had to lay low last week. It’s good to be back.

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