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Spring tradition: Obamas hosting annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama went 1-for-3 shooting basketballs at the White House Easter Egg Roll, an improvement over his 2013 performance, as he and first lady Michelle Obama applied a health and activity theme to the colorful annual springtime South Lawn ritual.

Under sunny skies with mere wisps of clouds overhead Monday, the first lady was flanked by the president and an Easter bunny on the White House's Truman Balcony as she said the emphasis of the 136th Easter Egg Roll would be healthy eating and staying active.

The event's theme was "Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape" and featured live music, yoga and obstacle courses in addition to the egg roll, sports and storytelling.

Obama reprised what has become an annual reading of Maurice Sendak's children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are." With a group of children arrayed before him, Obama mimicked the book's monsters, gnashing his teeth and growling and challenging the youngsters to a staring contest.

But if there was a feat he did not want to repeat, it was his 1-for-15 hoops shooting from last year. This time, the president, an avid basketball fan and pick-up game player, missed his first two shots from the foul line of the White House's outdoor court, and then sank his third.

Wearing khakis and with his sleeves rolled up, the president also hit tennis balls, posed for photographs and joined his wife in encouraging children in an Easter egg roll race.

PHOTO: Throngs of children and parents gather on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 21, 2014, for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Thousands of children are gathering at the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will kick off the festivities on the White House South Lawn. This year's event features live music, cooking stations, storytelling, and of course, some Easter egg rolling.    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Throngs of children and parents gather on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 21, 2014, for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Thousands of children are gathering at the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will kick off the festivities on the White House South Lawn. This year's event features live music, cooking stations, storytelling, and of course, some Easter egg rolling. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Mrs. Obama also participated in a healthy snack cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Marc Murphy and cast members of Disney's "Jessie." The group prepared fruit salad with honey and kale smoothies.

"I have a smoothie like this almost every day," she said, adding that she likes to include green apples and ginger in her green drink.

Mrs. Obama did her own storytelling, making an appearance with the family's dogs, Sunny and Bo, who quickly disappeared for their own walks with National Park Service staffers. The first lady read "My Garden" to the youngsters and asked what non-foods they would grow in their garden. After the children replied "money," she said, "Wow, this is a very sophisticated crew."

"You guys have big dreams," she added. "I love it."

The White House was expecting 30,000 people to take turns participating in the event on the South Lawn.


Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

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PHOTO: President Barack Obama makes a face as he reads "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak, during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House is Washington, Monday, April 21, 2014. Thousands of children are gathered at the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll. This year's event features live music, cooking stations, storytelling, and of course, some Easter egg rolling. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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