First, I’ll say that I’m thrilled we were able to secure tickets to this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll. But it was pure, dumb luck. It was clicking the right link at just the right time, after I’d even given up on getting them. I always thought it was a long shot, but we lucked out.
But of course, the problems were highly publicized, as noted in this Washington Post article. In fact, my experiences were even quoted in the article. One of my twittering buddies works for the Washington Post and asked me to email my thoughts on the process. Here is the whole email:
Honestly, I was a bit dubious when I first heard about the White House's plans for offering the Easter Egg Roll tickets online. It seemed an admirable, thoroughly 21st century idea, however being a web development professional myself I simply knew that whatever website was used for the ticket distribution would be absolutely slammed with traffic to the point of not working. And for much of the morning, when I was receiving "Network Timeout" errors, I was being proved right.
There was also the vagueness of the information provided in the White House's news bulletin: what time did ticket sales start? At midnight or sometime in the morning? The bulletin didn't say. It also didn't say if the tickets were being offered on a first-come, first-served basis or via a lottery system as was being reported in the Chicago Tribune. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-talk-easter-eggmar24,0,364891.story) Even as I type this at 1 P.M. on Thursday, it's not immediately clear when today the tickets are being offered. I keep getting redirected to a static web page that reads:
Tickets for the 2009 White House Egg Roll are no longer available at this time. Tickets will be available at various times throughout the day. If you are unable to order tickets at this time, please check back later.
Lastly, while the notion that an online distribution system would make it easier on parents across the country trying to get tickets, I wonder about the feasibility of families from areas outside the D.C. region being able to get to the nation's capital on short notice, especially in the current economy. I always saw the Easter Egg Roll as one of the perks of living in this area, like being able to enjoy the free museums and zoo any time we want to. While the Easter Egg Roll is a great public event in the most public house in the country, I'm not sure that opening it up to everyone in the country is necessarily practical.
All things considered, I don’t think I would have ever gotten the tickets if I had to camp out at the White House in the wee hours of the morning. The online distribution is more my style, when it worked.