The Latest Test for the White House? Pulling Off Its Easter Egg Roll
WASHINGTON — President Trump received an urgent warning in February, informing him of a crucial date he was about to miss.
“FYI manufacturing deadlines for the Easter eggs are near,” said a Twitter post directed at Mr. Trump; the first lady, Melania Trump; and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump. “Please reach out!”
“请知悉，制作复活节彩蛋的截止日期快到了，”一则发给特朗普、第一夫人梅拉尼娅·特朗普(Melania Trump)和总统之女伊万卡·特朗普(Ivanka Trump)的推文说道。“请联系！”
The message came from Wells Wood Turning & Finishing, the company that supplies commemorative wooden eggs for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, the 138-year-old celebration that has drawn 35,000 people to the South Lawn in recent years.
这则消息来自威尔斯·伍德车工与加工公司(Wells Wood Turning＆Finishing)，每一年，它都为白宫的复活节滚彩蛋活动提供纪念木蛋，这个活动有138年的历史，近年来已吸引了3.5万人前往南草坪观礼。
The staff of the company, based in Buckfield, Me., wondered whether the Trumps planned to continue distributing the wooden eggs as party favors, or whether they were even going to have a White House Easter Egg Roll at all.
By early March, the White House announced that the roll was on — Monday, to be exact — and soon followed up with a rush order for the wooden eggs.
By that time, the ovoid uncertainty had raised a question perhaps not as consequential as investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election, a legally dubious travel ban and a collapsed health care bill, but no less a window into the inner workings of the Trump administration: Could this White House, plagued by slow hiring and lacking an on-site first lady, manage to pull off the largest, most elaborate and most heavily scrutinized public event of the year?
“It’s the single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, and the White House and the first lady are judged on how well they put it on,” said Melinda Bates, who organized eight years of Easter Egg Rolls as director of the White House Visitors Office under President Bill Clinton. “I’m really concerned for the Trump people, because they have failed to fill some really vital posts, and this thing is all hands on deck.”
“这是白宫每年最高调的活动，白宫和第一夫人的表现都会受到品头评足，”梅琳达·贝茨(Melinda Bates)表示,她曾在比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)总统任内担任白宫参观者办公室(White House Visitors Office)主任，组织了八年的复活节滚彩蛋活动。“我真的很担心特朗普一家，因为他们没有填补一些非常重要的职位，而这件事情是需要所有人齐心协力的。”
White House party catastrophes have been the stuff of presidential nightmares in the past. During his first year in office, President Barack Obama drew harsh criticism for lax security procedures after a pair of aspiring reality-show celebrities successfully crashed a state dinner honoring the prime minister of India, with one of them managing to buttonhole Mr. Obama for a handshake.
The late start in planning by the Trump White House points to a smaller and less ambitious Egg Roll than in previous years. There may be half as many guests, a fraction of the number of volunteers to manage the invasion of the South Lawn, and military bands in place of A-list entertainers like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel and Silentó who have performed for Egg Rolls past.
特朗普白宫的规划开始得比较晚，这意味着滚彩蛋活动的规模要比前几年小，不那么大张旗鼓。客人可能会是以前的一半，管理进入南草坪的人群的志愿者人数也会减少一部分，还会由几支军乐队取代贾斯汀·比伯(Justin Bieber)、阿里安娜·格兰德(Ariana Grande)、伊迪娜·门泽尔(Idina Menzel)和赛伦托(Silentó)等曾在滚彩蛋活动上演出的一线艺人。
White House officials did not respond to several weeks’ worth of inquiries about the Easter Egg Roll, typically a heavily and enthusiastically promoted affair, and declined to provide basic information such as how many people are expected to attend. It is unclear, for instance, whether Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, will reprise his appearance in a bunny suit for the event, as he did a decade ago when George W. Bush was president and Mr. Spicer was an aide in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
通常，复活节滚彩蛋活动是一个受到积极、大力宣传的盛会，而白宫官员几周以来却没有回应关于这项活动的问询，并拒绝提供基本信息，比如预计会有多少人参加。许多事情目前尚不分明，比如白宫新闻秘书肖恩·斯派塞(Sean Spicer)是否会像十年前那样身穿巴尼兔套装出席这项活动，当时他在乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)总统任内担任美国贸易代表办公室(Office of the United States Trade Representative)的一名助理。
Stephanie Grisham, who started as Mrs. Trump’s communications director on Monday, had previously denied that the event was being scaled back from past years. But she acknowledged on Tuesday that attendance this year would be “a bit less,” based on feedback from former officials who had said “the event had become so large that many children were not able to enjoy the planned activities.”
“Our team has been working very hard to make this year’s event a success,” Ms. Grisham said. “I am confident that the success of this year’s Easter Egg Roll will speak for itself.”
The evidence points to a quickly thrown-together affair that people close to the planning said would probably draw about 20,000 people — substantially smaller than last year’s Easter Egg Roll, which drew 37,000. It will be staffed by 500 volunteers, Ms. Grisham said, half the usual. Ms. Grisham said she did not have “firm numbers” on the overall number of attendees, and those who provided estimates did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe the plans for the Easter Egg Roll, which are still evolving just a week before the event.
贝茨的回忆录《白宫故事》(White House Story)记录了克林顿时期筹备复活节滚彩蛋活动的挑战，她说，这个活动是一个窗口，在一定程度上，可以从中看出一届政府的能力。
Mrs. Trump, who lives in New York and has had a limited presence in Washington since her husband was sworn in, has been slow to hire a staff for the East Wing, which typically takes the lead on the Easter Egg Roll. She named a chief of staff and social secretary in early February but has yet to announce a director for the Visitors Office, normally the crucial player in the daunting execution of the event.