WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton blew the whistle opening the annual White House Easter Egg Roll today, sending thousands of little people dashing after their eggs.

Thousands of youngsters scampered across the White House lawn in this morning's enactment of the 185-year tradition, held under bright, sunny skies with brisk temperatures in the mid-40s.

This year, concerts, puppet shows and a youth forum were held on the Ellipse behind the White House. Entertainers included Lamb Chop and Her Own Show, Parachute Express, Dennis Hysom and the Wolley Cat.

But the real stars of the day were, as always, the president and the eggs, usually in that order.

Thirty thousand speckled wooden eggs were rolled, hidden, discovered and taken home. Most have a White House silhouette and the signature of the president and first lady on the back.

A smaller number have the marks of Barbara Streisand, Peter Max, Martin Short, Tom Selleck, Ukrainian Olympic gold medalists Oksana Baiul and Viktor Petrenko, and members of the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys.

Even the White House cat signed some.

''Some are signed by Socks. They're more valuable,'' quipped Clinton.