WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – When children gathered at the White House on Monday to roll Easter eggs in the grass, renewing a pandemic-interrupted tradition that dates back to 1878, there were a couple of participants from Greensboro who were having a really good time.

State Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Greensboro) helps his daughter, Charlotte, participate in the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. That’s his son, Jack, on his left. (MICHAEL GARRETT PHOTO)

You may have seen photos on social media of the two young children of state Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Greensboro) among those enjoying the festivities. The images of smiling faces elicited a basic question: How did the children of a state-level elected official from Greensboro find their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on the traditional Easter Monday?

As it turns out, you can trace their attendance to Toyota’s plans to build an electric vehicle battery plant at the Greensboro-Randolph County Megasite. If that seems a strange connection, we will let Garrett tell the story.

“I began working with the White House after Vice President [Kamala] Harris’ visit to Greensboro [in April 2021],” he wrote in an email response to questions from WGHP. “During her visit I mentioned to her the Randolph County Megasite and how perfectly suited it would be for an EV manufacturer, since that was key component of the infrastructure plan which she was promoting.

“She had some folks in the White House follow up to gather more information. Subsequently, we’ve worked on various issues and have come to communicate regularly.

“A few days prior to the President’s visit [Joe Biden visited Greensboro last week] the White House reached out and invited our family to attend.”

State Sen. Michael Garrett (left) and his wife, Allison, with Jack and Charlotte. (MICHAEL GARRETT PHOTO)

Garrett and his wife, Allison, have two children: Jack, who is 4 years old, and Charlotte, 22 months. Garrett said he asked Jack if he would like to go to the Easter egg roll at the White House?

“He replied, ‘to Joe Biden’s house? Yes, but can we ride on his plane too?’” Garrett said.

That didn’t happen, of course, but Garrett described a day that he said was “incredibly smooth.” The White House Easter Egg Roll had begun in 1876 and was interrupted briefly for security reasons before being re-established two years later by President Rutherford B. Hayes, who opened the South Lawn to everyone. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no roll in 2020 or 2021.

Garrett said his family entered from 15th Street and cleared security before strolling to the South Lawn, where there were cookies, pastries and quiches. “The kids were clearly most interested in the cookies of the First Cat, Willow,” he said.

He said both children participated in the Easter Egg Roll, which for the uninitiated involves children pushing Easter eggs through the grass with a wooden spoon, an event that appears unique to the White House. “Jack was ahead at first, but in the final stretch, Charlotte was able to pull it through and they ‘tied,’” Garrett said.

The NBA, NFL, and DC United had obstacle courses set up for the kids to complete, he said, and there was a reading nook, where children’s authors read aloud the children’s favorite books. He described how the Marine Band played from a balcony. He said his family met families from around the country, although they didn’t encounter anyone else from North Carolina.

“Our kids also completed an Easter egg hunt, as well as took pictures with Cookie Monster and some other characters I am not cool enough to know who they are,” he said.

He said the White House staff treated his children like “how friendly the staff is at Disney World. The entire day was curated for children, so everyone went out of their way to make sure our kids felt welcomed and left with an incredible family memory,” he said.

One thing the Garretts missed, though, was the appearance of President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who read an Easter story to the children.

“We showed up later in the day, after nap time,” he said.