Easter Egg Roll 2006
The Daniel Family's Excellent White House
Adventure Year 2
We arrived at the White House gate on Easter Sunday, and I let Tami and the boys out and they joined some performer friends of ours who were waiting to go in. I went off to park. (It only took 30 minutes, oh the big city!) As I was walking back, Tami called me on the cell to let me know they we're still waiting. There was a delay for admittance. Hmmm? We had noticed a high police presence for several blocks around the area which looked like they were preparing for the motorcade to come through. I knew the president was at Camp David with the family (usually he's in Crawford at the ranch Easter weekend).
As I walked up there was a group of about 40 or so folks waiting. Performers there for rehearsal like us, ladies working on the decorations, etc. Secret Service and White House staff kept coming over to apologize for the delay. Inside the gate there were several black clad, heavily armed Special Division Secret Service Agents with large guns and duffle bags and they seemed to be doing a sweep of the grounds. Hmmm, again I pondered. (You know where I'm going with this already don't you?) Finally, Gordon the head of the PR firm who plans the event for the White House comes over to explain that "the boss" who's not usually there when we are, had just arrived for lunch and as soon as they got the all clear we would be allowed in. Finally, we go in, get frisked, receive our credentials and then to the business at hand - placing our props, checking sound, taking pictures,etc.
An Unexpected Surprise!
About an hour into this, our contact Cheryl came up to me on stage and said "we have 4 minutes to clear the lawn, the president is leaving." Just leave your equipment and you can go back to it after he leaves". We go over to the side of the lawn and stand as a group of about 60, with our own secret service agent, one of the scary ones clad in black with I swear, a gun that looked like it could have been "Star Wars" issue! My friend Bruce asked if he could take his picture, he said yes, but said he does not smile for photos. A few minutes later folks emerge on the driveway. It's not the President at all but his Dad "41" and Barbara who wave and smile to us. Very Cool! By the way the Secret Service agent did not watch the former president and first lady, he watched us! Back to work and a little bit later they asked to us to hold off sound checks again until the President leaves. You guessed it, we went through it again, this time we clustered at the bottom of the South Lawn waiting for "Dubya" to leave on Marine One, we saw the helicopter fly in to another part of the lawn and then a bit later we were allowed to complete our final preparations.
Aly and AJ
In the meantime, Robert and Stephen had wandered down to another stage to watch 2 young ladies doing their sound check. A bit later Robert shows up and says to me "why didn't you tell us Aly and Aj (teen sisters from the Disney Channel) were here?" I apologized as I didn't know who they were, but the boys sure did and were thrilled to get their picture made with them. We finished up, then out to dinner with friends, then early to bed, and beauty rest for the big day ahead.
We returned the next morning ready and eager for a great day and cleared security a little before 8:00 AM. Unfortunately it was raining, not as bad as last year, but rain none the less. Things got started at our stage around 8:30. Since I wasn't scheduled to go on until 1:00 PM, there was time to wander around and take in the sights. Tami ran up with the boys about 8:40 and grabbed me and our friend Bruce Bray and said let's go. We headed up to the top of the lawn. She explained she'd just found out that The President and First Lady would speak during the opening ceremonies.
Aly and Aj sang the National Anthem at 9:00 AM and do a beautiful rendition. (I know who they are now.) A couple of minutes after that as the President and First Lady step out onto the porch, a door opens at ground level and out step the twins Jenna and Barbara who stand for a moment before they scoot off to the side. The First Lady welcomed everyone and spoke for about 5 minutes then she and the President came down the steps and walked over to start the Egg Roll, passing just a few feet from us. We had a marker and program ready for an autograph but no dice. "Dubya" blew the whistle and started the festivities and visited for a few minutes. Tami and the boys wandered off for more adventures. Bruce and I didn't budge as we figured he had to walk right by us on his way back into the residence. A couple of minutes later here he comes, waves, turns down the sidewalk and heads over to the West Wing. We watch him go right into the Oval Office through the outside entrance. (Not as cool as an autograph, but still way cool!)
Robert and The First Lady
The Adventure Continues!
Tami escorted Robert and Stephen over to the Reading Nook next to our stage to wait for Mrs. Bush to read. By the time I walk over through the crowd she has already started. I was able to watch and listen for a few minutes. Since I wasn't that close, I went to check on our stage. A few minutes later Bruce comes running up and says "I spoke to Mrs. Bush and shook her hand." A few minutes after that Tami beaming, shows me the pictures of Robert and Stephen with the First Lady on our digital camera. By the way, there were protesters that day raising cain about the gay couples bringing their kids to the festivities. Yes, we saw the signs down on the ellipse in the distance. The families we encountered with the rainbow leis throughout the day seemed to have as much fun as anyone.
Robert and Stephen would continue to rack up autographs from Santana Moss and Clinton Portis of the Washington Redskins and pictures with various costumed characters. I got to meet David Newell, Mr. Mcfeely, the Speedy Delivery Man from Mister Roger's Neighborhood. A truly nice man!
Finally I went on stage just before 1:00 PM to a great audience and a light sprinkle. It really is a special feeling performing there, even if it is outside and raining. Steggie, the monkey and I presented our version of Caps for Sale. My friend David Kaye from Manhattan was hosting our stage and had Robert and Stephen up throughout the day disappearing and reappearing from the platform one at a time. The crowd loved it and the boys were thrilled with their magical performance! I can't tell you how they did it, but they are twins:>)
Around 2:30 PM, I participated in a Cast Curtain Call with the other performers. A mom approached me as I stepped off stage and asked if her son could have his picture made with me. (They were from North Carolina as well.) We sat on the edge of the stage to chat and he was shaking like a leaf with excitement! That sums up the day for all of us! We packed up and loaded out. And then off to dinner with friends to exchange stories of our incredible adventure!