• Obama Family Welcomes Thousands Of Children To White House Easter Egg Roll

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    Children participate in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 1, 2013. The Easter Bunny, dozens of professional athletes and thousands of children will be hippity-hopping across the White House’s South Lawn as President Barack Obama and his family lead the annual Easter Egg Roll. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


    WASHINGTON  — President Barack Obama and his family are welcoming thousands of children to the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll.

    Speaking from the White House’s Truman Balcony, the president noted the sunny springtime day for the crowd below. On a day that kids devote to chocolate and jelly beans, first lady Michelle Obama was highlighting healthy habits.

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    She declared at one point, “Kids, eat your vegetables,” and then the family mingled with the participants.

    The White House’s South Law was transformed into a rainbow of colors as boys and girls played games to the sounds of kids’ show tunes and in the presence of athletes, entertainment figures and “Sesame Street” Muppets.

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    The festivities came off despite earlier warnings from the White House that budget battles could have forced the event’s cancellation.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

    The Easter Bunny, dozens of professional athletes and thousands of children were hippity-hopping across the White House’s South Lawn Monday as President Barack Obama and his family were leading the annual Easter Egg Roll.

    The theme of this year’s event is “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” – fitting with first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to lower childhood obesity rates by encouraging physical activity. The president’s basketball court was open for play, along with an obstacle course and yoga garden.

    A dance party was set up at the “Hop To It Stage,” and professional athletes and coaches were helping teach their sports in the “Eggtivity Zone.” Among the stars scheduled to attend were Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, gymnast John Orozco and Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.

    Two of the younger celebrities in Monday’s lineup are Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhane Wallis, star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and Robbie Novak, who plays “Kid President” in a series of popular YouTube videos. A track suit-clad Elmo and other “Sesame Street” Muppets performed and encouraged exercise.

    The White House had warned more than 35,000 expected attendees that the 135-year tradition could have been cancelled because of budget battles with Congress this year. White House tours have been called off because of government-wide spending cuts, but the egg roll was not.

    The National Park Service, which organizes the event, says it’s largely funded by sales of commemorative wooden eggs, plus some private donations. The park service would not say how much the event costs.

    The White House said 14,500 eggs were dyed for the egg roll and hunt, with another 4,500 hard-boiled eggs available for children to decorate. There are also special eggs that make a sound like a chirping bird so visually impaired children can participate in the hunt.

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