MENTOR - The annual Easter Monday Egg Roll that takes place at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor will not be returning this year due to federal budget constraints.
In the popular event, children race by hitting a wooden egg across the grass with a spoon. Last year, the event drew an estimated 800 people to the Mentor Avenue location.
When sequestration went into affect on March 1, $34,440 disappeared from the site’s Congressional appropriated annual budget.
Todd Arrington, the chief of interpretation and education for the historic site, said the vast majority of the site’s budget is spent on salaries and benefits for employees and utility costs.
Gas, water and electricity are fairly fixed costs, so any budget cuts cannot come from that spending, Arrington said.
“The only things we really have to save money is cutting events and staff,” he said. “And the issue is not so much that these events are expensive, but we have to pay our employees to be there.”
Arrington said the Garfield site has been very successful over the past few years in growing an audience of people interested in the former president, as well as other aspects of American history such as the Civil War.
“So this is the exact worst time for us,” he said.
The cancellation of the egg roll comes a week after the site announced it would be closed on Sundays until further notice. Previously, from Nov. 1 through April 30, the site was open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Arrington added that these cuts are permanent for fiscal year 2013, which ends on Sept. 30. Any special events until that date could possibly be cut if necessary. There is also no guarantee that the funding will be reinstated for next year
“We’re used to some budget uncertainty,” Arrington said. “But this year obviously is extreme, to say the least.”