By Beth Christian Broschart
A local student had an "eggcellent" time during her Easter break taking part in a special national tradition.
Third Ward Elementary fourth-grade student Jaden Pratt was one of 30,000 guests invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Above, Pratt received a commemorative egg signed by President Brack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Before the egg roll, Pratt, left, had the opportunity to see the White House up close.
Jaden Pratt, a fourth-grade student at Third Ward Elementary School, was one of 30,000 guests invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll, which took place Monday.
This year's theme for the event was "Be Healthy! Be Active! Be You!" and it featured many activities inspired by Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program. Obama's greeting said the event was 135 years old, and during that time, it has welcomed many visitors from across the country.
President Abraham Lincoln's son, Tad, hosted the first documented informal egg-rolling party in 1861. The current tradition was established by President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy. Today, the Easter Egg Roll is the largest public event held at the White House and features a wide variety of top-notch entertainment and activities.
Jaden, the daughter of Seth and Michelle Pratt, was thrilled to learn she would be going to the event.
"We got a text message on March 23 at 9:30 p.m. saying we had tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll," said Jaden's mother, Michelle Pratt. "We had not told her about the event until we received confirmation, so if we did not get tickets, she would not be disappointed.
"When Jaden found out she was going, she was so excited," Michelle Pratt continued. "We got on the computer and Googled the event and looked at all of the cool things to do. She was so excited."
Michelle Pratt said they traveled to Washington, D.C., on Sunday, and they were able to visit some of the Smithsonian museums. They had to be at the White House by 6:45 a.m. Monday to go through security.
"There are six sessions throughout the day, each with about 6,000 people in attendance," Michelle Pratt said. "With that many people there, it still never felt crowded."
Jaden received a colored Easter egg and a wooden spoon, which she used to roll the egg around the South Lawn of the White House. Other events in that area included an Easter Egg Hunt and photos with strolling characters dressed like Easter eggs and Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny.
"Some of Jaden's favorite events were in the sports and fitness zones," Michelle Pratt said. "She really enjoyed the yoga garden and the hula-hoops. When the Weather Channel showed their footage at one point, Jaden was there, hula-hooping. We received lots of calls from people at home who said they saw Jaden on television. It was so much fun for her."
Lots of entertainment was on hand at the White House South Lawn. Sesame Street characters Katie Chin and the Ohmies performed.
"Jaden really enjoyed listening to Austin Mahone," Michelle Pratt said. "She was in the front row and he sang a song directly to her. She also enjoyed listening to the book reading by Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Shields Robinson."
A really unique section on the South Lawn was "Play With Your Food."
"This featured a family farmer's market with lots of fruits and vegetables, explaining how to include them in our daily meals," Michelle Pratt said. "Kitchen staff from the White House and celebrity chefs including Anne Burrell were there talking about making snacks. We also visited the White House's organic garden and apiary to learn about bees."
Jaden had traveled to Washington before, but this was her first trip to the White House.
"My favorite time was doing the hula-hoops and listening to Austin Mahone," Jaden said. "It was just a really great time that I will always remember."
All those participating in the White House Easter Egg Roll received a commemorative egg, signed by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.