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Story highlights

The White House Easter Egg Roll is hosted by the first lady

About 20,000 adults and children attended the event, the first lady's office said

(CNN) —  

Eggs were rolling – nearly 18,000 of them – Monday at the White House.

First lady Melania Trump, hosting the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, kicked off the event alongside President Donald Trump, calling it a “wonderful tradition.”

“As we renew this tradition, thank you for joining us. On behalf of the President and Barron, we wish you great fun and beautiful days coming ahead of us,” she said, also thanking the military band, White House staff and egg roll volunteers for their help.

Trump, in his suit and signature red tie, also thanked the crowd of attendees gathered below the White House balcony.

“We’re going to come out and join you and enjoy your company for a roll, a great Easter egg roll. And I don’t know if people are going to be successful, but I know a lot of people down there are going to be successful. I’ve seen those kids, and they’re highly, highly competitive,” he said.

The formal event kicked off at 7:30 a.m. ET, with multiple waves of guests arriving in two-hour increments. There will be activities, entertainment, and, of course, the actual egg roll, in which children race wooden eggs with a spoon.

“Looking forward to hosting the annual Easter Egg Roll at the @WhiteHouse on Monday!” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon alongside a pastel watercolor image of the South Lawn.

A Trump Egg Roll

The White House Easter Egg Roll gives each first lady the opportunity to put her thumbprint on the lighthearted, family-focused event. This year, Trump’s event will mark a return to tradition.

“It’s a huge opportunity for an administration to put their mark, their seal on how the egg roll goes,” said Tommy McFly, a Washington radio personality who emceed the event for six years under the Obama administration. “The stakes are very high. It shows the first lady’s office and the visitors’ office – it really is their moment to shine, but the eyes of the country are on it, as well.”

The first lady did a lot of research on previous White House Egg Rolls as she planned the event, her staff says.

“She wanted to get back to the tradition, so we’re bringing back some traditional elements, like military bands, and focusing on the family itself,” Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s communications director, told CNN.

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