On Monday the White House will become something it has yet to become while Joe and Jill Biden have been in residence: A party house.
At 6:45 a.m. ET, the first of what will ultimately be an anticipated 30,000 guests, who won tickets via a public lottery, will pour through the south gates and onto the lawn for the 142nd White House Easter Egg Roll.
“Joe and I look forward to welcoming thousands of families to join us for this year’s White House Easter ‘EGGucation’ Roll!” the first lady tweeted Friday.
“The Bidens are excited to open the People’s House back to the American people, after being closed to the general public because of the pandemic,” Jill Biden’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, told CNN, adding that preparation for the Easter Egg Roll has been months in the planning. The first lady chose the theme of “EGGucation,” a riff on her decades spent as a teacher.
“The President and first lady will give remarks and kick off the egg rolling for the kids,” said Alexander, who added that Jill Biden will also read to kids at the Easter Egg Roll’s outdoor reading nook.
The day’s festivities are further evidence that life at the White House is slowly returning to a pre-pandemic version of normal, something that the Bidens have yet to experience.
On Friday, a limited schedule of White House tours resumed for the public, with tickets arranged via the visitors’ Congressional representative, and last weekend saw the return of the Spring White House Garden tours, which saw almost 30,000 ticketed members of the public over the two-day period. A White House official told CNN that, barring any significant shift in Covid-19 spikes or rising cases regionally or nationally, the hope is to build the tour schedules back up to a pre-pandemic norm of several days a week.
By this juncture in an administration, the White House has typically hosted two Easter Egg Rolls, a large Halloween trick-or-treat party, several significant dinners or luncheons for dignitaries, members of Congress, or other VIP leaders, as well as at least one State Dinner.
Due to Covid-19, the Biden White House has been quiet.
“We have worked hard over the past year to bring the White House to the American public through a variety of interactive and creative ways, on as many digital platforms as possible,” says Wayne Skinner, director of the White House Visitors Office. “But nothing can replace experiencing the history and the magic of the White House in person.”
It is Skinner’s team who has overseen and implemented the planning of the Easter Egg Roll, which is customary for the Visitors Office.
The basement-level floral workshop, run by chief White House floral designer Hediah “Roshan” Ghaffarian – who was hired by Michelle Obama in 2015 – has generally focused on day-to-day needs, such as keeping arrangements in many of the White House’s public and private room freshly rotated, says one person familiar with the operations.
The White House cooking team has also had a relative break from the mad hustle of preparing and serving hundreds of hot dinners for some of the most important guests in the world. The Chocolate Shop, one of several White House kitchens, is tasked with making and prepping the major centerpieces used when the President and first lady entertain.
“It’s never ‘slow-slow,’ with nothing to do,” said a former White House official who worked closely with the White House staff and chief usher for several years to plan and oversee social events.
“These are professionals who every day make food and desserts and snacks and buffets – anything that is needed. But there is a profound loss in the use of their…