I’ve seen it on TV. I’ve read about it in newspapers and on blogs. However, I never knew how those families got there until a close friend share the lottery announcement on Facebook. So…I clicked the link and entered the lottery. I honestly didn’t think my family would get picked (because I don’t have the best of luck in lotteries), but WE DID! We were heading to the White House for President Barack Obama’s final Easter Egg Roll in his administration.
Here’s our story.
The official lottery opened up on recreation.gov’s website on Feb 12 and ended Feb 17. We entered the lottery on the 13th. The process was very simple. We completed a short form, indicated the number of adults and children, and gave preference on group choice. Then we submitted and waited.
On Feb 25th, results were available online. The results would indicate whether or not your family was selected in the lottery. I was eager so I did not wait for the email. At about 10AM EST, I logged into recreation.gov’s website with the username and password I created when I entered the lottery and there it was. We we selected and was heading to the White House! It also included information on the group we were chosen for. In our case, we were in Group C: 12:15 – 2:15. This actually made me happy. With 3 girls ages 5 and under, we needed that extra time in the AM getting ready (lol). Not soon after, I received the “official” email simply restating what was already on the website with the addition of next steps.
On Feb 29th, we had to claim our tickets online using the unique code that was in the congratulatory email from the 25th. This was also a very simple process. We did not get our tickets at this time, but this was a mandatory step to ensure you did receive your digital tickets later on. At this point, I broadcasted to everyone that we were going to the White House…I just couldn’t keep my mouth closed (lol). Here’s a snippet from the email confirmation after claiming tickets:
The FIRST thing you should do at this point if you haven’t done already is BOOK HOTEL. Most of the closer hotels to the White House book to capacity really fast. We preferred to stay at Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall. To read my review, please click here! The rate was $99 (discounted for family & friends) and we booked for a single night. Since this was our first time attending the Easter Egg Roll, I felt comfortable reading blog posts from families who attended previous years. I was able to get so much information from reading about other perspectives – I was at least 90% prepared from doing this simple research. I also visited the main Easter Egg Roll website frequently for schedule and entertainment updates.
The Day Before – Easter Sunday.
The first thing I did in the morning was opened the weather.com app on my phone and typed in the zip code for Washington, DC. I was selfishly happy. The forecast called for rain in the AM and then sunshine in the afternoon. Remembering this event is held on the South LAWN, I ran to Burlington Coat Factory and picked up 3 pair of rain boots which all were on sale ($10/pair). I packed enough clothes to dress in layers and the double stroller for my twins and waited for #BOSSDAD to get home from work. Don’t forget to PRINT your digital tickets!
ROAD TRIP TIME to Washington, DC! Unfortunately, we arrived to DC a little late so once we checked-in, it was time for bathing and bedtime.
The BIG Day!
Like I stated before, we were Group C: 12:15 – 2:15 so we weren’t really in a rush in the morning. The Hyatt Place provided complimentary breakfast in the morning – that was horrible. Needless to say, we ate the horrible breakfast and prayed for a better day. It rain in the early morning, but it stopped and the sun was shining bright at around 10AM. This was great news for our group, but we still needed our rain boots. Our minivan was parked at the hotel so rather than paying for another parking bill and dealing with the struggles of DC parking, we UBERed ($7) it. A vehicle arrived within 5 minutes and we were able to fit the entire family + the big ass double stroller! We arrived at 11AM and the wait was very, very, very long. I expected this from the blogs I read during preparation, but some people were not prepared. I felt sorry for the women who came out in Sunday’s Best with 4 inch stilettos…they were sinking into the wet grass. Read people, read! You will not be sitting down sipping tea – think of this as Family Fun Day on the last day of school along with thousands of other people. Okay, I’ll rant about that in my pros/cons post that I am drafting now – stay tuned. We stayed in line for a little under 2 hours and made it in at exactly 12:45.
Yes, we missed 30 minutes of our scheduled time 🙁 and you don’t get to stay longer. After clearing thru the metal detectors, the lovely volunteers handed each of my children a goodie bag with a schedule of activities and the program. #BOSSDAD and I made note of the events we wanted to girls to attend and the start/end time. We participated in the following:
- Rock N’ Egg Roll Stage to do the stanky leg with Silento
- Hop To It! with KidTribe – hoola hoop contest
- Sports Zone – Eggtivity Zone
- Egg Roll Classic – Eggspress Yourself
We took lots of pictures throughout the events. There was a great supply of water and treats available. My kids were not hungry because we fed them while we stood in the long line waiting to get in. Bathrooms were readily available and clean as well. There were also volunteers all over who I witnessed helped families with special needs children, etc. When 2:15 came, we were ready to go. We were “walking dead” as a result of all the fun we had. Exiting was a disaster. Can you imagine thousands of people trying to get out of a single entrance? As you can imagine, you had to have patience. When we finally hit the exit gate, my children were each handed an commemorative egg. Our adventure at the White House was officially over.
Since we did not want to hit traffic, we found a variety of things to do around DC including eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Once traffic settled, we UBERed it back to the hotel to pick up our minivan and hit the road back to South Jersey.
There are a couple of details I left out and that was intentional. In my next blog posts, I will provide a review on the Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall and describe the pros/cons of our family adventure to the 2016 Easter Egg Roll.
Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below.
With love + caffeine,