Four children from Butler County arguably will have their best Easter weekend this year.
Two youths from Franklin Township and two from Adams Township will travel to Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to prepare for their participation in the 136th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday.
Jacquelyn Haniwalt, 10, and her brother, Austin Haniwalt, 7, both of Franklin Township, and Addison Peters, 4, and her sister Emma Peters, 9, both of Adams Township, have Alita Haniwalt, Jacquelyn and Austin’s mother, to thank for their Easter expedition.
Alita Haniwalt explained that parents can enter a White House lottery for a chance to attend the traditional event.
Haniwalt last year failed in the lottery, and was prepared to give up on the idea because her children are reaching the upper limits of the ages allowed to participate in the egg roll.
“I said, ‘I’m going to give it another shot,’ ” Haniwalt said.
Her co-worker and friend, Carol Johnson, also had tried without success to get her grandchildren, Addison and Emma, into the egg roll for several years, including this year.
Haniwalt said, “I told her, ‘If I win, I’m taking your grandkids, and if you win, you’re taking my kids.’”
So when Haniwalt was notified via a March 21 e-mail that she had won one of the two-adult, four-child tickets to the national event, she kept her promise.
“It is so exciting,” Johnson said.
Haniwalt said the only instructions she has gotten regarding the event is to arrive at the gate to the White House 45 minutes early with the printed tickets, and to bring identification.
“I’m anticipating high security, so we’re not going to bring purses and things like that,” said Haniwalt, who will go inside with Rebecca Peters, Emma and Addison’s mother.
“Jacquelyn and Austin are ecstatic,” Haniwalt said. “It’s all I’ve heard about all week.”
Regarding the Peters children, Haniwalt said Rebecca Peters has chosen to avoid the pre-adventure hysterics by not telling Emma and Addison the news until they are on the way to Washington.
The group also will enjoy another popular activity, which is closer to home on the day before the big event at the White House.
“We’re kicking our fun weekend off at the Pirates game on Sunday,” Haniwalt said.
After the end of the 1 p.m. matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers, the group will depart PNC Park and head for the nation’s capital.
While President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend the event and the president will speak, Haniwalt did not know if the first family would interact with the 30,000 adults and children assembled for the egg roll.
“My son drew a picture for the president, which he plans to give him,” Haniwalt said. “It’s a picture of the White House with him and President Obama in front of it.”
According to the White House Easter Egg Roll web page, Monday’s events will include live music, sports courts, cooking stations, and storytelling. The theme of the day is “Hop into Healthy, Swing into Shape,” in accordance with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.
The event can be watched live on Monday online at WhiteHouse.gov/live.