Monday, April 9, 2012

Scrambling for Easter Egg Roll Tickets

I’m not sure our German exchange student, Thomas, ever fully appreciated our excitement concerning the 2007 Easter Egg Roll at the White House. He certainly couldn’t understand why we would wait in line all night, with snow and sleet coming down, and call it a vacation. But he was game for anything, and so were we. After all, we were in Washington, D.C. for the first time, and wanted to take advantage of every opportunity while we were there.
            Going to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House would be a once in a lifetime event, and we were willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. After all, this would be our last chance. According to the criteria, a maximum of five tickets would be issued per person. Children of all ages could attend, as long as there was at least one child seven years old or under and no more than two adults per group. Figuring in our 16-year-old son and our German exchange student, we just met the criteria. Now all we had to do was stand in line for tickets.
            We’d already missed the cherry blossoms by the time we got to Washington, D.C. in April of 2007. A cold front had moved in and the pink blossoms had changed to gray puddles on the ground. Rain mixed to sleet as we planned our strategy to get Easter Egg Roll tickets. Passes were to be distributed at 7:30a.m., so we wondered how early we should we get there: 5:00am? 4:00am? We were warned that people waited all night, but just how long was “all night”?
            We decided to stroll by at 10:00pm on Sunday to check it out. Much to our dismay, there were already people in line! By the looks of their tents, they’d been camping out for a while. There wasn’t really any choice. If we wanted to take our daughter (who would be 7 later that year) and our German exchange student on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we had to act. So I gave my husband a kiss, and he took his place in line.
            It was cold that night. And we were tired from traveling, but we wanted this. My son woke up at 2:00am, and walked through the cold, rainy streets of D.C. with a thermos full of coffee for my husband. The Metro wasn’t running during the wee hours, so he had about a 2 mile walk from where we were staying. He passed along the coffee and replaced my husband in line so that he could come home and change into dry clothes. After a much-needed reprieve, he went back to stand in line and my cold, wet son came home to take a shower. By then, it was 5:00am and they were distributing passes for those lucky few who would receive timed entrance tickets. My husband called from his cell phone. We’d made it!
            I woke up my daughter and our German “son” and we hurried back to the White House lawn. We had a while to wait, so we enjoyed breakfast and entertainment in the waiting area on the ellipse. We could see the festivities beginning over on the White house lawn and heard a cheer from the first group to enter.
            Finally, it was our turn, and we shivered our way onto the most famous lawn in the world. We partook in all the events. My daughter rolled an Easter egg. The boys listened to the band and wandered around all the exhibits. We took a million pictures of ourselves with the White House in the background. And Thomas had a souvenir shot of himself to take back home and show his friends.
            But the picture we framed upon our return was the one sight-seeing venue that only our family could appreciate: the spot on the sidewalk where my husband had waited all night so that we could enjoy our once-in-a-lifetime Easter Egg Roll event. That little spot on the pavement was where lifetime memories were made.

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