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White House Easter Egg Roll hosts record attendees

Lesley Ho spent 60 hours over the past three weeks preparing for her children Roosevelt, 8, and Lincoln, 6, to travel to the South Lawn of the White House. She placed several online clothing orders and combed the internet to plan a fun-filled D.C. itinerary no matter the unpredictable weather.

The whole family was thrilled to make the trek from Houston to D.C., where on Monday, they donned their new brightly colored spring outfits and joined thousands of others to take part in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

“It’s always been a dream of mine … even as a kid, being named after George Washington, to be able to go to this Easter Egg Roll,” said Washington Ho, Lesley’s husband. “I never got to go when I was younger so this is really awesome.”

Eight people from the Ho family — stars of an HBO Max reality TV show about their lives in Houston called “House of Ho” — are named after presidents. After Washington’s father and grandfather immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, they wanted their family to be leaders. Ho has a brother named Reagan, two nieces named Kennedy and McKinley, and two nephews named Grant and Truman.

Washington, a real estate investor said being able to visit the White House has deep personal significance. “My parents came here, barely spoke English and just created a really successful life and family — you know, the American Dream and the opportunities it affords everybody. That’s what I can’t really wait to show my kids. For them to see, feel and touch the people that they’re named after.”

The Easter Egg Roll offered a spirit of joy on the following Easter — and after a week in which the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed and former president Donald Trump shared a controversial image of President Biden with his hands and feet tied online.

Throughout the day, the White House grounds were filled with about 40,000 people and brightly colored eggs, continuing a tradition that started in 1878. The day was cold and the event was delayed by 90 minutes because of the rain — unlike last year, when the weather was sunny and clear.

Once again, this year’s theme was “EGGucation,” which focused on educational opportunities, in recognition of first lady Jill Biden’s career as a teacher for more than 30 years.

“I love any time when we can turn the White House into a classroom,” the first lady said from the balcony. She, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff descended onto the lawn after the remarks to participate in the egg roll.

The day’s activities included a representation of a school, a farm, a reading nook, stations for STEM activities, the traditional egg roll and egg hunt. Special guests included Blue, a character from the upcoming animated movie “If”; the Baltimore Ravens mascot; Smokey Bear; and the Easter Bunny.

The day’s first activities were reserved for people with disabilities, which allowed families to maneuver the various stations without crowds.

Cynthia Morgan and her daughter Angel, 17, traveled from Los Angeles with the Miracle Project, a theater and film program for teens and adults who are neurodivergent or autistic. After participating in the egg roll, Angel started singing “Climb” by Miley Cyrus, a song she loves to perform.

“What’s wonderful is them creating a space for us to come early, where we feel so welcomed and we get to see so many other neurodivergent, autistic and disabled individuals here,” said Elaine Hall, the Miracle Project’s founder. “We were blessed to be here at The White House.”

District native Asibi Carnegie held her 6-year-old daughter Talibah after she was one of the first children to complete the egg roll race. Carnegie picked up tickets for the event from the Maryland School for the Blind late last week and took the day off from her job at the Pentagon. Talibah, whose vision is impaired, was tired after waking up at 5:45 a.m. Her mom promised her hot chocolate as she whisked her away to the reading nook activity center.

The Thurman family — mom Tiffany, dad Ezechial and daughter Alicia took the Amtrak train from Philadelphia at 4 a.m. to attend the Egg Roll. Alicia, 8, said she was most excited about the candy-filled eggs that were scattered about.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring our daughter here and to celebrate our country here,” said Ezechial, a high school music teacher on spring break.

The American Egg Board, which represents the nation’s egg farmers, provided 64,000 real eggs this year that were used for hunting, decorating and cooked in egg-based dishes served for special guests. The eggs used in the egg roll and hunt were dyed pink, teal, blue and purple.

During the Egg Roll, Roosevelt Ho narrowly beat out his sister Lincoln to cross the finish line first.

The Ho family, which included grandparents Binh and Hue Ho, soaked up the uniquely Washington experience. In the days before the Easter Egg Roll they visited the cherry blossoms and the Lincoln Memorial and ate brunch at the Woodrow Wilson House off Embassy Row.

“To see American history leaves us in awe,” Lesley Ho said.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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