Iconically DC

  Cherry Blossom Festival

It’s spring in DC and that ushers in many events special to Washington, DC.  This year was the 100th anniversary of the donation of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, DC by the mayor of Tokyo, Japan.  The mild winter meant that the trees blossomed well before the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and that the blossoms quickly faded.  When Leila and I finally made it to the Tidal Basin, which is lined with many of the cherry trees, they were nothing but a sea of green.  But I was here last year and could remember back to seeing the city dressed in pink.

Cherry Blossoms

The Cherry Blossom Parade and Festival still occurred without the accompaniment of flowers – including the requisite Cherry Blossom Balloons, Cherry Blossom Princesses and Tyco Drummers.

White House Easter Egg Roll

But the most iconic event of the season is the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House – started by President Andrew Jackson in the 1860s.  This year 35,000 people in five waves of 7,000 spread across the lawn to participate in the egg roll activities.

There is the egg roll itself.  The older children are “into” the competition

While the younger children aren’t sure what’s the fuss.

Young egg roller 1

Other activities include face painting, egg coloring and several exercise challenges in honor of the First Ladies “Let’s Move” initiative.

Most important of course is the “paper bag” kite making and “bunny copter” construction organized by the Lawrence Hall of Science – where I got my start in the informal science education profession.

Leila and I volunteered to help participants make kites. Non-stop helping kids pick the color kite they want, encouraging them to decorate the kite,

Adding streamers and strings,

before sending them off to run hard!

It will be at least a year before I want to see another paper bag kite.

The main event of the day, however, was seeing the First Family mix with the crowd.  The arrival of the First Family kicks off with a welcome from the President – the dot-sized, white- shirted person at the center of the photo.

Then he moved into the crowd and started one of the egg roll competitions.

The highlight this year was the First Family reading books to a crowd of children.  Sasha and Malia read the first book.

Then the President read Where the Wild Things Are.

One also appreciated the number of people that made it possible to usher them into the crowd.  How many staffers and Secret Service personnel can you count in the background below?

Secret Service Entourage

I count 19, and there are more not visible in the photo.

Later in the morning, Michelle Obama participated in a “healthy-cooking” demonstration.  Leila got to watch the demonstration.  I had to get back to work after playing hooky to get photos of the book reading.  Anyway, I got to see the cooking demonstration last year, which included Jacques Pepin and Al Roker, in addition to the First Lady.

We came away from the six-hour shift totally exhausted.  It was like working on the Pacific Science Center exhibit floor on a special event weekend.  Although pooped, we were also energized by interacting with children excited to engage in some science learning.

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