WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Thunder and lightning delayed the start of the Easter egg roll at the White House for 90 minutes on Monday, but the event eventually kicked off under gray skies with a large crowd including many youngsters wearing ponchos or colorful jackets against light rain.

More than 40,000 people — 10,000 more than last year — were expected to attend, attempting to move hard-boiled eggs across the lawn to a finish line. This year’s theme was “EGG-ucation,” and led by Jill Biden, a teacher for more than 30 years.

“Easter reminds us of the power of hope and renewal, and sacrifice and resurrection,” President Joe Biden told attendees, speaking from the White House balcony, where he was flanked by two large Easter bunnies, one wearing sunglasses like his. “But mainly love and grace towards one another.”

Biden said this year’s egg roll was a time to “cherish the blessings, the possibilities that we have as Americans.”

The president then headed out on the lawn, bending down to help a few youngsters with their eggs. He blew a whistle to officially start the roll — an annual tradition first held in 1878.

A large schoolhouse erected on the South Lawn offered kids activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM — including making circuit-breakers or simulating a fossil dig. Youngsters also wrote notes to U.S. troops and first responders with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization.

Egg roll guests included thousands of military and veteran families, their caregivers and survivors. Members of the general public claimed tickets through an online lottery and were being admitted in nine waves until the evening.

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