WASHINGTON — Maybe we should go back to standing in line.
The White House's Internet distribution of free tickets to its South Lawn Easter Egg Roll appears to have begun with a splat.
Thursday's release of tickets in batches produced what some described as large gaps in availability, creating frustration and confusion.
In recent years, most people wanting tickets for the rite of spring -- a free event held the Monday after Easter -- would stand in line, often for hours, the Saturday before.
In the years before that, huge lines would form Easter Sunday and into the next morning.
The switch to online distribution was envisioned as a way to ease the process and make tickets available to people across the nation. By 6 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, the tickets had been snatched up by people in 41 states, a spokeswoman said.
Complaints began surfacing early Thursday, shortly after the tickets became available.
Some people complained that they were unable to access www.whitehouse.gov/easteregg "> www.whitehouse.gov/easteregg roll or that tickets weren't available.
Tracy Rotton of Aspen Hill, Md., said she started trying to reserve tickets for her two children at 8 a.m. At 2:15 p.m. she announced via Twitter that she had gotten her tickets.
"I was a bit dubious when I first heard about the White House's plans for offering the Easter Egg Roll tickets online," Rotton said in an e-mail Thursday. "And for much of the morning . . . I was being proved right."
Kristin Vergis of Garden City, N.Y., said she was up until midnight to see whether the ticket site was active. She visited the site again at 6 a.m. and tried to reserve tickets throughout the day, to no avail.
"At one point I got through the verification process and then was timed out," she said in an e-mail to the Washington Post. "I wish the ticket process had been left the way it was."
Some parents resorted to using Craigslist to find tickets and offered to pay as much as $50 apiece.
A White House spokeswoman said they were working with Internet sites to prevent ticket sales.