Amidst Russian meddling in the presidential elections, North Korea’s saber-rattling, the horror in Syria and attempts to replace Obamacare, there’s another crisis President Trump will soon face: the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
A New York Times article published yesterday revealed the haphazard organizational effort the Trump White House has taken to this revered and mostly “feel good” annual event. As confectioners can attest, seasonal sales for Easter/Passover potentially represent a significant income boost. It’s no wonder candy makers fret about Easter coming early, which — when it does — hardly gives time for retailers to promote the holiday adequately. That, of course, has an impact on sales.
And here I was thinking that this was going to be a good start for the confectionery industry, Easter coming late this year, when I saw a headline flash across my screen about a less-than-spectacular White House Easter Egg Roll.
New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfield Davis carefully detailed how the Trump White House, because of an inability to properly staff positions that are critical to this event, is scrambling to pull off this storied party on the lawn.
As Davis writes, “Mrs. Trump, who lives in New York and has had a limited presence in Washington since her husband was sworn in, has been slow to hire a staff for the East Wing, which typically takes the lead on the Easter Egg Roll. She named a chief of staff and social secretary in early February but has yet to announce a director for the Visitors Office, normally the crucial player in the daunting execution of the event.”
It actually took a tweet, actually several tweets, from Wells Wood Turning & Finishing, the Buckfield, Maine-based supplier of commemorative wooden eggs for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, to raise a red flag. The company hadn’t received any confirmation of an order – typically 80,000 eggs – in early March. Once alerted, the White House reacted, but because of manufacturing deadlines, there will be only 40,000 wooden eggs available for the 138-year-old seasonal event.
Attendance is expected to be down, about 20,000 compared to last year’s 37,000. Instead of musical big-names stars such as Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, a military band will have to do. Local schools in Washington, D.C. are reportedly still waiting for invites. And Sesame Street said that because of the late request, only one character will be made available. Even money it’s Oscar the Grouch.
While some of you may poo-poo my feigned outrage about the White House Easter Egg Roll compared to all the issues our president has to deal with, this signals a real problem facing the current administration: staffing.
Consider this quote from Davis’ article: “It’s the single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, and the White House and the first lady are judged on how well they put it on,” said Melinda Bates, who organized eight years of Easter Egg Rolls as director of the White House Visitors Office under President Bill Clinton. “I’m really concerned for the Trump people, because they have failed to fill some really vital posts, and this thing is all hands on deck.”
All executives and entrepreneurs quickly learn the importance of having the right people working for you and the importance of delegating responsibilities to trustworthy and capable individuals.
I, personally, know what it’s like putting on an event, such as our Kettle Awards Reception and Dinner, and what happens if you don’t have the right people helping you. Thank goodness for Adriene Cooper and the events staff at our company.
A short video that accompanies the printed article points out that an independent group known as the White House Transition Project, which measures how smoothly the change of administration occurs, reported that as of March 30, only 9 percent of positions that “stand up the president,” or support him in his duties, have been filled.
Of course, that includes the East Wing, the domain of the First Lady and the office responsible for the Easter Egg Roll.
Well, we will see how this all “rolls” out on Monday, won’t we. Recent reports suggest White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer may not last till then. Something about him misspeaking — again. If not, perhaps he can replicate his role as the Easter bunny, something he did for President George W. Bush when he was an aide in the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
So Donald, Melania, don’t let us down or we’ll have to get the Candy Caucus to call on you.