Easter Monday, 1878: Rutherford B. Hayes hosts a initial White House Easter Egg Roll
The White House South Lawn would never have turn home to America’s best-known Easter egg hurl if Congress hadn’t initial upheld a fun-spoiling law that denied internal children entrance to a many renouned egg-rolling venue of a 1870s: Capitol Hill.
Blame Andrew Johnson’s family for starting a trend: according to a Clinton White House, Johnson’s grandchildren painted eggs on Easter Sunday to hurl a subsequent day on a Capitol grounds, while a First Lady supervised from a South Portico. (Other sources contend a tradition goes behind to James Madison’s presidency.) The trend hold on, and in a years that followed, a Easter Monday hurl drew families for daylong picnics while “children rolled both their hard-boiled eggs and themselves down a sensuous immature hills.”
A quite rough hurl in 1876 took a sulfurous fee on a Capitol grounds, and Congress fought back. Citing an unsound landscaping budget, it upheld a law ominous a drift from being “used as a children’s playground,” starting in 1877. While that year’s egg hurl was rained out anyway, President Hayes saved a day a following year by opening a White House drift for a occasion.
The games have altered over a years, from egg picking (hitting another hard-boiled egg with your own, anticipating to moment a other egg but enormous yours) to egg croquet (in that hollowed eggshells are propelled by croquet hoops — unequivocally delicately — regulating fans). Today’s many renouned event, a egg race, wasn’t introduced until 1974, by a Nixons.
And while egg rolling might have depressed out of preference in general, a White House egg hurl never has; in fact, it’s a largest annual event hold during a White House. These days, with direct outpacing grass space, assemblage is dynamic by lottery. But it has always drawn a different crowd, as an 1898 news report attests, proclaiming: “All sorts and conditions of children find their approach to a president’s drift to suffer Easter Monday. Some of a children are beautifully dressed in silks and laces and have French nurses to watch over them and lift their eggs for them, while other small ones are dressed in unequivocally unfair panoply with elbows out and toes peeping from their small shoes.”
(A 1902 news adds that, “The white and a dark-skinned leave questions of competition mastery rest for a day and association democratically.” And while happy and lesbian couples weren’t sure that their families were truly acquire during George W. Bush’s egg rolls, Obama formally welcomed them in 2009.)
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is a mess. What a Capitol groundskeepers refused to do, a White House grass organisation has down to a science, as TIME reported in 1953, when President Eisenhower regenerated a tradition 12 years after it was dangling for World War II.
“The Eisenhowers unequivocally didn’t know what to expect,” TIME wrote, “but a gardeners began a week in allege scheming for a worst, installing charge fences, comfort stations and celebration fountains.”
The egg hurl itself incited a South Lawn into a child-sized fight section that would take weeks to purify up, a story added: “By noon, a drift were a awful mass of crushed eggs, slimey chocolate marshmallow, melting preserve beans and cruise midden. Most astonishing casualty: a press photographer mislaid both shoes.”
Read a full news on a 1954 Easter Egg Roll, here in a TIME archives: The White House: Mob Scene