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White House Easter Egg Roll: not just a few bunnies in fuzzy suits

Stars on hand will include NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, New York Giant Victor Cruz, actress Quvenzhané Wallis, and 'American Idol' alums Jordin Sparks and Jessica Sanchez.

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Willow Smith (c.), daughter of actor Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, performs a song with dancers on stage at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, April 25, 2011.

Jason Reed/Reuters/File

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Not that long ago, when this reporter’s college-age kids were just wee sprouts, the White House Easter Egg Roll was a lovely, even understated affair.  

On Easter Monday, a few benighted souls in giant bunny and baby chick costumes strolled the South Lawn, while children, dressed in their holiday finest, pushed hard-boiled eggs with long-handled spoons across the lawn toward a finish line. The president and first lady waved from the balcony. At the end, each attendee got a souvenir wooden Easter egg.

As with many things in life, those simple days are gone. On Friday, the White House put out its talent lineup for the 135th annual Easter Egg Roll, to be held on April 1 – including a list of celebrity attendees so long and so enticing, we’re tempted to borrow some age-appropriate kids and head over.

To name a few: NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, and Academy Award-nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis will be reading aloud on the Storytime Stage. Two “American Idol” alums – Jordin Sparks and Jessica Sanchez – will be singing, along with others whose names sent us to Google (Austin Mahone? Coco Jones? The Wanted? OK, got it, all young and talented. The Wanted are a British-Irish boy band formed in 2009, according to our good friend, Wikipedia.)

This year’s theme is “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” –  maybe that’s “Let’s Move!” in a bunny suit. A roster of 38 professional athletes and coaches will be on hand, including salsa king Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. They will be participating in something called the Eggtivity Zone Obstacle Course, teaching kids how to play sports and stay fit.

Celebrity chefs, including Ina Garten and D.C.’s Spike Mendelsohn, will prepare healthy eating demonstrations at the “Play with your Food” station.

Attending as a “special guest” is Robby Novak, better known as Kid President. Back to Google: He’s a 9-year-old motivational speaker, on a mission to make grown-ups less boring, he explained on the “Today” show in January.

But wait, there’s more, according to the White House guidance:

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Hop To It! An instructional dance party on the South Lawn! Get up and go jump rope, hula hoop, dance, and more.

Basketball and Tennis Get hands-on training from basketball and tennis pros on the president’s court.

Yoga Garden A session of yoga from professional instructors.

Eggspress Yourself An arts and crafts area with egg dying, egg decorating, exciting craft projects, and more.

More than 300,000 people requested tickets online, and 30,000 people were selected at random from around the country. Come to think of it, it all sounds like a bit much. Maybe the better option on Monday is to watch online – 7:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Eastern time – as the White House suggests.


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