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WASHINGTON — An amused President Obama read a children's book to a gathering of boys and girls at the White House then peppered them with questions: Had any of them lost a tooth? Had any climbed trees? Had any fallen after climbing?
It was all part of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which attracted 30,000 children and parents to the Executive Mansion's South Lawn for a day of festivities.
Obama, with his dog Bo seated beside him, narrated the popular illustrated book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” about alphabet letters and their adventures climbing up a coconut tree.
“So clearly the alphabet is full of troublemakers,” the president concluded after offering his rendition.
Moments earlier, speaking from the White House's Truman Balcony, Obama thanked the crowd for the sunny springtime day. On a day that kids devote to chocolate and jelly beans, first lady Michelle Obama stressed healthy eating habits.
“Kids, eat your vegetables,” she declared before the family mingled with the participants. Mrs. Obama and the couple's daughters, Malia and Sasha, also read books.
The White House's South Law was transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors as boys and girls played games to the sounds of kids’ show tunes and in the presence of athletes, entertainment figures and “Sesame Street” Muppets.
The festivities came off despite earlier warnings from the White House that budget battles could have forced the event's cancellation. White House tours have been called off because of government-wide spending cuts.
One highlight of this year's event was the “Eggtivity Zone,” in which athletes and coaches helped teach kids how to play sports. Among the stars booked for this duty were Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, gymnast John Orozco and Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.
Two of the younger celebrities in today's lineup are Oscar-nominated actress Quvenzhane Wallis, star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and Robbie Novak, who plays “Kid President” in a series of popular YouTube videos. Elmo, Abby and other “Sesame Street” Muppets will also be performing.
The National Park Service, which organizes the event, says it's largely funded by sales of commemorative wooden eggs, plus some private donations. The park service would not say how much the event costs.