Some good luck turned into a golden egg for a Gainesville family that was on its way Monday to the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House.
Shane and Jennifer Lazenby were in Washington, D.C., with their four children — Jackson, 15; Allie, 11; Sawyer, 7; and Lillianna, 5 — attending the 139th roll on the White House lawn after Jennifer Lazenby filled out a one-off application for the lottery to attend the event earlier this year.
Tens of thousands of people participate in the Easter celebration on Pennsylvania Avenue, and thousands more apply multiple times without ever being chosen.
“We’ve learned that it was a really big strike of luck to get the lottery,” Shane Lazenby, a local lawyer, said in a phone interview after the family’s tour of the Capitol on Monday. “A lot of people apply year after year after year and don’t ever get it, so we got it and we’re very, very excited about it.”
They visited the White House after a bustling trip through the capital for the slate of Easter activities on the lawn.
“There’s a souvenir that’s given — they’re excited about that,” Shane Lazenby said. “They’ll get, we understand, a wooden egg that has been designed by somebody on President Trump’s staff. They get to take that home with them.”
In characteristic style for new President Donald Trump, many of the traditional wooden eggs handed out as souvenirs to the families attending the egg roll are bright, shining gold and are marked with the White House seal and the signatures of both Trump and first lady Melania Trump.
“That’s the preferred one,” Lazenby said of the golden egg.
Allie Lazenby said it was a fun, busy trip for the family through Washington, D.C.
When the family learned they lucked out in the lottery, they started making plans to see the nation’s capital. Beginning Friday, they went on an enlightening run through Washington, seeing its namesake’s home at Mount Vernon, the nation’s founding documents at the National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.
When the Lazenby family spoke to The Times about the family’s trip, it was fresh off of a tour around the Capitol by an intern of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, that included a stop at House Speaker Paul Ryan’s balcony and a trip to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Allie Lazenby, a North Hall Middle School student, also hit the nail on the head when describing the American capital.
“It’s very crowded and a little noisy, but really neat and beautiful,” she said, “especially during cherry blossom season.”
She said she was looking forward to the egg roll and spending time on the White House lawn and maybe even rubbing elbows with President Trump, who was expected to stop by the event hosted by the first lady.
The Lazenbys last visited the capital in 2007 with their two oldest children.
With former President George W. Bush in the last two years of his presidency and a divided Congress back then, the Gainesville attorney said Washington feels like a much different place these days — especially for a red state resident.
“It’s a different feel, and of course both houses of Congress have changed over with a different majority, so we were able to get down on the House floor and see the legislative chambers down there and see where the State of the Union is given,” Shane Lazenby said. “That was very unique, and Speaker Ryan’s balcony — we got to go out on it. It was pretty cool, but I think that probably is directly related to the fact that Speaker Ryan and Congressman Collins are contemporaries in the same party.”