WASHINGTON (AP) -- 'Twas a sunny Easter Monday. Turf's up time on the South Lawn of the White House.
Bundled up against a crisp March morning, thousands of children ran, jumped, crawled and skipped merrily across the lawn in this year's renewal of a spring rite dating to President Rutherford B. Hayes' administration in 1878.
This time around President Bush joined his wife, Laura, his mother and former first lady, Barbara Bush, and daughter, Jenna, in presiding over the festivities. "We're sure glad you're here," Bush shouted from the White House's Blue Room balcony. Later he blew the whistle to start the egg roll races, chuckling at the children's mirth while the first lady applauded their efforts.
"This event is one of the happiest traditions on the White House lawn," Mrs. Bush said. "It's always fun to see the South Lawn filled with children."
Young people competing in the event's namesake races pushed eggs across a stretch of grass using giant spoons. The festivities also included an egg hunt, musical performances, reading, magicians and face painting.
About 7,500 eggs were available for the egg roll races. Another 3,200 dyed eggs were used for the egg hunt and 4,500 were boiled for children to dye.
After the start of the races, Mrs. Bush sat in a designated reading nook and read "Arthur Meets the President" while a person in costume as Arthur helped illustrate some of the story's events. The character also helped former first lady Barbara Bush when she read "Arthur's New Puppy." Both books were written by Marc Brown.
Jenna Bush selected three children from the audience to act out the story "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak while she read. She encouraged them to roar, roll their eyes, gnash their teeth and show their claws in time with the story's action.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman and a number of Bush administration Cabinet secretaries were also scheduled to read stories. A popular band - the Jonas Brothers - performed the national anthem.
Each child got to take away a commemorative White House wooden Easter egg, an activity coloring book, baseball cards of the first family's pets, a White House bookmark, a children's book, candy, a commemorative poster, a "My American Journal" booklet and stickers relating to this years theme of ocean conservation.