Obama and his wife, Michelle, appeared with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, on a balcony overlooking the South Lawn where hundreds of children were scurrying for positioning for the egg-rolling competition. Malia and Sasha Obama, the president's daughters, were also there.
Obama initially could only wave to the crowd, thanks to nonworking microphones. He looked around for help, and finally the sound system started working.
Arrayed beneath the Obamas and Bidens was a large crowd of kids buckled up against the early-spring chill.
Obama greeted the crowd, extolling the event as one that "reminds us that this is the people's house."
Obama said his job was to introduce the first lady to the crowd — and Mrs. Obama said that "our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating ... We've got Easter Egg decorating, we've got basketball, we've got soccer ... We want everybody to think about moving their bodies."
Music star Fergie sang the National Anthem after the president spoke.
The White House allotted tickets for the event to gay and lesbian parents as part of the administration's effort to reach out to diverse communities.
The president spent part of the morning reading to children on the lawn. His book of choice: "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.
As he read he pointed to pictures in the book, and at one point he got the kids to try staring without blinking their eyes. There were some highly-amusing kids' bug-eyed faces, and one little girl's eyes were so big the president started laughing, according to the pool report.
At times the president howled and spoke in a monster voice as the kids looked on. Apparently he was a bit too scary. Most of the children clapped when the president reached the end of the book, but one started crying.
"These wild things can be a little scary," Obama said with a smile as someone picked up the boy and held him.
The first lady and her mother, Marian Robinson, continued storybook time by reading "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Joffe Numeroff.
The first lady, Sasha, Malia, their grandmother and their friends then went to a music stage to watch Fergie perform.
Fergie, wearing what she called her "little girlie dress," performed an edited version her song "Glamorous," which has the line, "If you ain't got no money, take your broke a** home."
She left out the curse word, but some in the crowd filled it in for her.