No egg roll again, but Easter Bunny still visits White House

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President Joe Biden appears with first lady Jill Biden and the Easter Bunny on the Blue Room balcony at the White House, Monday, April 5, 2021, in Washington. The annual Easter egg Roll at the White House was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – The coronavirus forced the White House to scrap its traditional Easter Egg Roll for a second straight year on Monday, but that didn't stop President Joe Biden from giving a nod to the tradition in an appearance with a special guest.

The president and first lady Jill Biden appeared on the White House balcony along with a mask-wearing Easter Bunny played by Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon Westling, a military aide to the president.

In brief remarks, Biden said the virus had forced many Americans to forgo “familiar comforts of the season” but expressed hope that Americans — and the White House — would be able to return to some of those traditions next year.

“We look forward to next year when the White House will ring with joy of the season once again and there will be an Easter Egg Roll, God willing,” Biden said.

The Easter Bunny, this time a press aide in costume, later made an appearance at the White House daily press briefing to drop off commemorative wooden eggs and chocolates for reporters.

The egg roll, typically held the day after Easter, usually brings some 30,000 children and parents to the White House grounds. This year the Bidens instead sent thousands of commemorative eggs to vaccination sites around the country and local hospitals.

President Rutherford B. Hayes started the White House egg roll tradition in 1878. There have been a few other times when the event was either moved off the White House grounds or cancelled.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson suspended the egg roll, and Franklin Roosevelt did the same during World War II. President Harry Truman scratched the egg roll from 1948 to 1952, because of food rationing and renovations at the White House.