Invision/AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama officially opened the annual Easter Egg Roll on Monday, calling it "one of the greatest White House traditions."

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.