“The Return of Patrick Mahomes Highlights the Truman Library’s Easter Egg Roll”

The first time they hosted an Easter egg roll modeled after those big White House events, the folks at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum invited the young backup quarterback from the Kansas City Chiefs to read a book to the 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren.

He rolled up to the library in Independence by himself. No pomp. No circumstance. The kids sat on the ground in front of him and listened while their parents took photos with their cellphones.

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Just a few months later that young man in a red shirt, Patrick Mahomes, became starting quarterback, and the rest is NFL history — three Super Bowl wins in five years.

The book he read to the 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren that day?

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss.

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Patrick Mahomes at the first Harry’s Hop ’n Hunt at the Truman Library. Ed Autry

Mahomes helped launch a tradition at the museum.

In 2018, “the people who were here decided an Easter egg roll would be cool, different from just a normal Easter egg hunt. And because we’re a presidential library it has that tie to the White House,” said Azalea Michel-Whitley, the public programs officer.

Hundreds of kids and their families showed up for Harry’s Hop ‘n Hunt in 2018 and 2019.

Then, in 2020, COVID shut down the fun.

But the egg roll returns Saturday, an event so big it has three sponsors: the Truman Library Institute, the city of Independence and the Independence Square Association.

No egg rolls while people starved

President Rutherford B. Hayes presided over the first White House Easter Egg Roll in 1878, according to the White House History website.

Since then, every Easter Monday 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren gather on the South Lawn to shove wooden eggs on the ground with wooden spoons. Since 1878 only bad weather, war, renovation projects — and the COVID pandemic — have canceled it.

Truman, who became president on April 12, 1945, canceled the egg rolls from 1946 to 1948 as the world dealt with a postwar food shortage.

Plastic Easter eggs weren’t patented until 1978. So consider the horrible optics if 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren had rolled farm fresh eggs around on the White House lawn while people starved.

Then, renovations at the White House from 1949 to 1952 turned the South Lawn into a construction zone “and the Easter Egg Roll remained suspended,” the history website says.

Harry and Bess Truman never hosted a White House Easter Egg Roll.

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reading to 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥ren participating in the Easter fun at the 2018 Harry’s Hop ’n Hunt Kathy Cornelius

Mahomes is ‘obviously welcome’

The eggs that kids roll on the White House lawn and will be rolled at the Truman library are wooden, not plastic and definitely not fresh, hardboiled or softboiled.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan ushered in the era of wooden eggs.

At the White House event in 1981 they gave away wooden eggs autographed by famous people. Today, the young participants in D.C. take home wooden eggs as keepsakes. The public can buy the commemorative eggs online at whitehousehistory.org.

In Independence, the kiddos will push wooden eggs with wooden spoons down the gentle slope of the library’s south lawn, “just like at the White House,” said Michel-Whitley, but they don’t keep the eggs.

And, she joked, “we’re making them walk it back up the hill.” But they can roll it downhill as many times as they want.

Kids can also sign up for the Easter egg hunts; the little kids hunt in their own group separate from the big kids. (Bring your own basket.)

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To maintain the decorum befitting a presidential library, the eggs are unfilled so the kids (hopefully) don’t, uh, do battle over them.

Instead, each 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 will take home a goodie bag.

Photos taken every year at the White House show scores of girls dressed in Easter dresses and boys in church clothes.

The Independence event has no dress code, but Michel-Whitley suggested kids wear “their Easter best” because of all the good Instagram moments. Hint: The Easter Bunny makes a grand entrance at 10:15 a.m. and will be there all morning.

Mahomes is not a scheduled guest, but it goes without saying that the young man who found exciting places to go has a standing invitation. With his kids, this time.

“He’s obviously welcome,” said Michel-Whitley. “If he wants to come he can come. He can bring little Sterling and Bronze.”

Harry’s Hop ‘N Hunt

The Easter egg roll, egg hunt and other activities are from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 30, at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum south lawn, 500 W. U.S. Highway 24, Independence. Admission is free. Celebrity readers include Independence Mayor Rory Rowland, movie critic Lonita Cook, K.C. Wolf and Harry S. Truman re-enactor John Pritchard. Register at eventbrite.com.

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