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Obamas welcome children to annual Easter Egg Roll

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013

The South Lawn was transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors as boys and girls played games to the sounds of kids' show tunes, snacked on apples and got a chance to meet professional athletes and entertainers.

The White House confirmed that among the thousands of families at the egg roll were some from Newtown, Conn., where a mass school shooting took place in December. They did not offer additional details, citing privacy reasons. The family of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton also attended the event. An official confirmed that Hadiya's mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, and brother Nathaniel Pendleton Jr., 10, who played tennis with the president as part of the day's activities, attended the egg roll.

Hadiya, 15, was gunned down in a park close to the Obama's Chicago home days after performing at the president's second inauguration. The first lady attended Hadiya's funeral and sat with her parents at this year's State of the Union speech.

The White House Easter Egg Roll came off despite earlier warnings from the White House that budget battles could have forced the event's cancellation. White House tours have been called off because of government-wide spending cuts.

One highlight of this year's event was the "Eggtivity Zone," in which athletes and coaches helped teach kids how to play sports. Among the stars booked for this duty were Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, gymnast John Orozco and Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.

Two of the younger celebrities in Monday's lineup are Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhane Wallis, star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and Robby Novak, who plays "Kid President" in a series of popular YouTube videos. Elmo, Jordin Sparks, The Wanted, Austin Mahone, Coco Jones and other "Sesame Street" Muppets were to perform.

The National Park Service, which organizes the event, says it's largely funded by sales of commemorative wooden eggs, plus some private donations. The park service would not say how much the event costs.


Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.