Craig, Kid, and I got to go to the White House egg roll this past Monday. We got tickets as part of an outreach effort to LGBT families and families in the South to ensure that a diversity of Americans was represented. (Thanks to the Equality Federation and Brian Bond, White House LGBT Liaison, for coordinating that.)
First thing in the morning, we went to the White House Conference Center on Jackson Street to pick up tickets.
In the Jackson Conference room ...
... a group of staffers checked us in.
One of them had even drawn a cute welcome sign by hand!
Then we got our much-coveted golden tickets.
We got the 1:45 time slot, so shortly before 1 pm we dutifully approached the White House.
We found the entrance - to the pre-line LEADING UP TO the actual line.
There were people ...
... more people, ...
... and yet more people!
Did I mention the people?
It was hot and tiring waiting in the long pre-line, but it began to move after half an hour, and then we flew through it. They were efficient once things got going! We went through a security checkpoint (where we were metal detected and had all of our pocket belongings and cameras carefully inspected), and then we got on the Ellipse.
We were given free snacks and drinks here - no food or beverages are allowed on the actual White House lawn. This was a good move, since everyone, kids and parents included, were all grumpy and thirsty. While we waited here, there were entertainers on a stage who sang songs and encouraged the crowd to do a variety of activities to get us moving in fun ways.
My family laid on the grass and waited. We did some rock-paper-scissors and talked about the stuff we expected to see.
After another 15 or 20 minutes, we got in the actual line to the White House lawn.
It was a bit of a process getting thousands of people to assemble into coherent single-ish file. Parents and kids held hands or walked hand-on-shoulder in order to stay together. People actually formed multiple lines that converged into one.
Finally we made it through the gates onto the White House lawn. Here's Kid (my kid, Isaiah, lower right) in front of a fountain.
The lawn was set-up like a mini-festival, with multiple activities and events for kids. Here's Kid running an obstacle course. (Did I mention it was bright and sunny?)
The event was well-staffed, with dozens of volunteers around at all times, wearing pastel hats and green aprons with a bunny on the front. You can see a couple in this picture, which also has a fountain in it. And, oh yeah, the White House (which seemed surprisingly small in real-life).
There was a small stage set up for dancing-related activities, like hula-hooping to songs.
Kid got to enter a small fenced area and watch Disney's Zack and Cody read him a story.
Parents got to stand outside of a small fenced area and watch their kids watch Disney's Zack and Cody read them a story.
There was a stage set up for performers. Unfortunately, we missed the cast of 'Glee' (which Craig loves) and instead got to be entertained by the screechy pop-styling of teen-singer Justin Beiber. (I don't know anything about him. Props to him for not lip-syncing, but there is something to be said for production values in music! Thankfully Kid didn't care for him. Now if Miley Cyrus had been there ....)
It was the height of the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC, and many trees were blooming beautifully. (Kid is running a football practice course in front of this one.)
The entire Mall area is amazing, with multiple memorials and sights being visible from any given area. Here's a photo from the White House lawn with the Washington monument.
There was an actual egg roll, where kids tried to race eggs down lanes using large plastic kitchen spoons. (Kid is in the center in blue.) It was all equanimitous and in fun, so there were no formal winners or losers.
After an hour-and-a-half, we were done. We headed for the exit.
We never got to see any of the First Family (the President was throwing a baseball at the Nationals, but I'm not sure where the First Lady or First Daughters were), but we did get a souvenir egg with Barack and Michelle's signature on it, as well as a pack of yellow Peeps (tm).
Oh, and did I mention the gay people. We were there! There was at least one other LGBT family from North Carolina there, and I saw two lesbian couples with kids. Also, at least two of the White House staff there were gay, one chef and one security guard. (There was one guard on the roof of the White House who I certainly wished were gay! He was camera-shy unfortunately.)
My favorite, however, was a group of high school kids from a gay-straight alliance (can't ... remember ... name of school). There were bunches of them, and they had these awesome shirts:
This is the world we're working for, one where all types of families can come together at a common event, and HAVE NO ONE CARE. Oh, and having equal rights for all of those families, too.
Events like this are a step forward towards that day of true equality. It was an amazing experience, and it'll be something Kid will remember - the first time he went to the White House.