Shindigger doesn’t do early mornings. But when Michelle Obama and her husband (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) come a-calling, we suddenly become quite awake—and available. Thanks to our friend Tim Morehouse, the silver-medal-winning Olympic fencer, we were invited to attend the 135th White House Easter Egg Roll this past Monday.
We set our alarm for 3 a.m., and Shindigger and Mr. Morehouse booked it down to D.C. just in time to be among the first of the 30,000-plus invitees to arrive. Guests included politicians, athletes, do-gooders and lottery-winning families, all of whom would soon wreak havoc on the White House’s South Lawn.
Let’s Move!, the first lady’s initiative to get America’s children fit and active, was the driving theme behind this year’s festivities. By 8.30 a.m., thousands of kids could be seen rushing through obstacle courses, playing field hockey with Olympic team members, shooting hoops, dancing at a series of concerts and even dabbling in acrobatic yoga—all in the Obamas’ backyard.
“I got invited and I couldn’t say no,” NFL star Anquan Boldin told Shindigger during the first social session. “It’s a great opportunity to come and mingle. I’ve heard about this event for a couple years. I was here last year.”
And that wasn’t his first visit to the executive mansion.
“After winning the national championship at Florida State, I got invited,” Mr. Boldin explained. As he had just been traded from the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens, it was unclear if Mr. Boldin would be coming to visit the president as part of the team’s victory lap.
After some more coffee, Shindigger tried to make friends with Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), with whom we had been escorted through the VIP entrance at the East Gate. She looked spunky in a loud pink-and-rose ensemble, complete with a white-and-magenta puppy purse, and was presently queueing up to enter the White House and kick it with Mrs. Obama.
“What do you do to stay fit?” Mr. Morehouse asked the 9-year-old actress.
“Just dancin’,” she said, crossing her arms with a touch of sass.
“Wanna show us your dancin’ movies?” he asked, bopping to a nonexistent beat.
“Mmmm, mmmm,” she buzzed with an unimpressed look on her face.
A few minutes later, Robby Novak, who plays “Kid President” in a viral video series (and appeared as the “president” in the White House’s April Fool’s Day video), exited onto the Truman Balcony with the Easter Bunny, and thus began the presidential welcome. Jessica Sanchez belted out a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and then President Barack Obama took the podium.
“When does Bo and Lady Obama come out?” one nearby youngster asked his guardian. Even Mr. Obama could sense he was playing second fiddle on this day.
“And I now want to introduce the star of the Obama family, my wife, the first lady, Michelle Obama.”
Followed by much applause.
“So today, we want you to have a great time. We want you to run around,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re going to come down and do some Easter egg roll. We’re going to read some stories. But overall, we want you guys to have a good time and keep moving and be healthy.”
Then, as the superstar first family descended toward the lawn, all hell broke loose (and only one day after Easter!). Parents jostled for that perfect iPhone shot. Some hoisted their children into the air for a closer look.
We looked to get out of the scrum and ran into another hardbody.
“They called me up and asked me if I wanted to participate,” Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Shindigger, as screeching little tykes darted around him, knocking into inflatable tackling dummies.
We asked Mr. Peterson if he had met the Obamas and if he had refrained from subjecting them to his notoriously bone-crunching handshake.
“I didn’t wanna get tackled by Secret Service or anything,” he said with a laugh. “So I took it easy on the president, but I got a little peck on the check from Mrs. Obama. It was pretty cool.”
That’s more than Shindigger could say. Where was our presidential kiss, we wondered? Come to think of it, where were our glasses of wine? Between toddlers screaming for Dora the Explorer and Jordin Sparks’s crooning, a glass of red would have been perfect for our fitness regimen.
We then decided to investigate the food situation back in the roped-off tent area.
“I was on the basketball court when Obama came down,” said Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, who was handing out sandwiches to volunteers. “It’s like a tailgate, but with water and healthy food—and a lot of kids.”
It did indeed feel like some sporting event. Case in point: race car driver Danica Patrick was making her first-ever pit stop at the White House. “I got to meet the whole family, including the dog,” she said, adding that the president’s knowledge of NASCAR was impressive.
Shindigger asked if she had spotted U.K. boy band The Wanted creeping around the South Lawn.
“I don’t know who they are,” she whispered.
“They’re right in front of you,” we whispered back, pointing toward the East Wing.
“Where?” she said. “I have no idea what ‘the wanted’ is, but the kids these days—they find out about stuff first.”
Probably because they wake up so damn early.