White House adapts Easter tradition to pandemic

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The White House was forced to scratch the annual White House Easter Egg Roll for the second straight year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop President Joe Biden from giving a nod to the tradition.

The president on Monday delivered brief remarks from the White House to mark the holiday with his wife, Jill Biden, and the Easter Bunny by his side. The mythical creature was played by the president’s military aide, Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon Westling.

“We look forward to next year when the White House will ring with joy the season once again and there will be an Easter Egg Roll again, God willing,” Biden said.

Like last year, the annual White House Easter Egg Roll had been canceled due to the pandemic. A tradition that dates back to 1878, children receive commemorative Easter eggs and search for tens of thousands of hard-boiled eggs on the South Lawn. The festivities are marked with a visit from the Easter bunny and entertainment from celebrity guests.

Wells Wood Turning and Finishing in Buckfield, Maine, did the honors this year, producing colorful, wooden eggs. The 2021 eggs feature a bunny wearing a mask on one side and the signatures of the Bidens on the other. The golden egg is unique, with an image of the president’s German shepherd dogs, Champ and Major.

Thousands of commemorative eggs are being donated to vaccination sites, community health care centers and hospitals, the White House said.

Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated across the nation with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings for a second time on Easter Sunday. From vast Roman Catholic cathedrals to Protestant churches, worshippers followed coronavirus precautions.

The Bidens returned to the White House Monday morning after a weekend at Camp David presidential retreat.

Friday, President Biden expressed his condolences and ordered White House flags be lowered to half-mast in honor of Officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed in an attack after a man rammed a car into a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol security checkpoint.

Earlier on Friday, Biden welcomed data that showed the U.S. economy created the most jobs in seven months in March but warned Americans that the progress on the economy could be reversed if the coronavirus surges through the country again.

Nonfarm payrolls surged by 916,000 jobs last month, the biggest gain since last August. The jobs report comes as infections and deaths from COVID-19 are still rising in some states. Several states, including Florida and Texas, have rolled back mask mandates and other coronavirus protections, even as some health officials recommended continued vigilance.

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