Pat Schroeder was always quick with a quip when she represented Denver in Congress for 24 years, from 1972-1996, whether she was talking one-on-one with a reporter or treating the masses to her opinion of the "Teflon presidency" of Ronald Reagan.
In China with members of the House Armed Services Committee in the spring of 1979, Schroeder donned an Easter Bunny outfit and handed out candy to kids at the U.S. Embassy. And then she donned the costume again on a trip to the Great Wall.
Or did she? Maybe there is no Easter Bunny!
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Bunnygate created headlines around the world -- and criticism back at home. "In the press reports, Schroeder's whimsy appeared flaky and foolish," wrote Joan Lowy in Pat Schroeder: A Woman of the House:
But in his new book, Confessions of a Political Spouse, Jim Schroeder insists that the bunny story was blown out of proportion. Yes, his wife had worn the bunny suit, with its papier-mache head, at the embassy, just as she'd worn it to escort Colorado's Cherry Blossom Festival princess a few weeks earlier. "It was, incidentally, a big hit," he says. She took the costume along when the contingent boarded a bus on a tour to the Great Wall, and held the head up to the window when they passed Chinese families, he explains, since the rabbit is a good luck symbol in China. And then, when the bus stopped, yes, Pat got off the bus, "briefly put on the bunny head, waving to the kids... It was all great fun and lasted about five minutes."
The Easter Bunny did not hop up to the Great Wall, he insists, although the legend lives on.
You can ask Jim Schroeder all about it at noon today, when he'll be at the LoDo Tattered Cover to sign his book. He will not be wearing a bunny suit.