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Obama shoots hoops, reads to kids at White House Easter Egg Roll

Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

President Obama posed with the Easter Bunny.

Thousands of children and their parents dotted the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, joining the Easter Bunny, President Obama and dozens of celebrities and professional athletes for the annual Easter Egg Roll.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

First lady Michelle Obama sings and dances as she, Al Roker and Anne Burrell cook pasta with pesto.

The layer of fog that greeted the first wave of excited guests quickly lifted to reveal a brilliant sunny morning. Obama noted the weather as he welcomed guests.

“It was a little shaky this morning, but all of you did a great job sending a message upstairs,” he said.

More than 35,000 guests from all 50 states received timed-entry tickets to the daylong event that features egg rolling, live music, cooking stations, sports activities and storytelling.

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Obama and his family watch as singer Jessica Sanchez sings the Star Spangled Banner alongside Marian Robinson.

Just before the president and his family walked out of the White House to greet the crowd, the Easter Bunny appeared with Robby Novak, who plays the “Kid President” in a series of YouTube videos. The 9-year-old Tennessee resident, who filmed a promotional video for the Egg Roll earlier this year, helped introduce the first family.

Related: Kid President helps White House pull April Fools' prank

After thanking Novak, Michelle Obama encouraged her guests to have fun.

“We want you to run around.  We want you to go over and see the White House Garden.  We want you to learn about making tasty, healthy food,” she said, also noting the other activities available. “But overall, we want you guys to have a good time and keep moving and be healthy.  And, kids, eat your vegetables, okay?”

Jason Reed / Reuters

Joined by the Easter Bunny, the Obamas watch the Egg Roll festivities on the White House lawn.

With his dog, Bo, sitting obediently next to him, President Obama narrated the popular children’s book, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” a story about letters of the alphabet climbing up a coconut tree.

“Clearly, the alphabet is full of a bunch of troublemakers,” he said.

The president also took a shot — 22 of them, actually — on the lawn’s basketball court. He failed to make a free throw during various attempts, until he finally handed the ball to a boy and asked for help. The boy successfully made the layup.

"He couldn't make one. I had to help him out," said Kahron Campbell, 10, of Landover, MD.

Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

President Obama and Michelle cheer on children as they race to roll eggs at the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday.

Elsewhere, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson also was on hand, one of many professional athletes promoting the year’s theme, “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” as a tie-in to the first lady’s campaign to fight childhood obesity by encouraging physical activity.

“It’s very important, especially with our young generations, to get those kids used to eating healthy, being more active, and getting outside the house and being active. It really helps with daily life,” Peterson told TODAY’s Al Roker as the two spoke from the South Lawn. “I feel like it’s very important what the first lady is doing with the ‘Let’s Move’ initiative to get kids more aware and get adults more aware. Because I remember when I was 13, 14. I wasn’t inside playing … I was outside.  I can see where it helped me.”

TODAY

The egg and Al: TODAY's Al Roker reports live from the White House Easter Egg Roll.

“American Idol’’ stars Jordin Sparks and Jessica Sanchez topped the lineup of musical performers, while celebrities tapped to read stories to the crowd included NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, Oscar-nominated child actress Quvenzhane Wallis, and characters from "Sesame Street."

Earlier this month, the White House seemed to hint that the annual event was in jeopardy of being canceled due to spending cuts, but quickly shot down that speculation and confirmed the celebration would go on as scheduled.

Each participant left the event with a souvenir hardwood Easter egg emblazoned with the signatures of President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The eggs come in numerous colors and can also be purchased for $7.99 each. Those who buy the full set online will get a bonus egg featuring Bo, the first family's dog.

Jason Reed / Reuters

Children during the 135th annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House.

Read more:

Obamas to host celebs, athletes at White House Easter Egg Roll

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