Obama outing draws a crowd
Windward O'ahu residents were able to catch a couple of glimpses of vacationing President Obama yesterday as he took in a movie and played a round of golf.
At Windward Mall in Kāne'ohe, a crowd gathered after word spread that Obama, his family and friends went to Regal Cinemas yesterday morning for a private screening of the movie "Avatar."
The special screening of the digital 3-D action picture was arranged before the first regular showing to minimize disruption to other moviegoers.
One of Regal's nine auditoriums at the mall was reserved for the first family, but the rest of the multiplex remained open to the public.
A crowd was waiting for Obama when he and the others left at 12:32 p.m., emerging from a side door near Borders Books & Music.
A group of more than six children came out first, along with fathers Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt, according to a media pool report.
Obama stepped into the sunlight wearing sunglasses, a dark blue short-sleeve shirt, brown slacks and a BlackBerry on his belt. He was accompanied by his daughters, Sasha and Malia.
A light cheer went up from the crowd of onlookers in the parking lot and Obama waved at them, the pool report said.
The presidential motorcade returned to the family's beachfront compound in Kailua at 12:51 p.m.
Obama made a quick turnaround, arriving at Mid-Pacific Country Club in Lanikai at 1:19 p.m. for a round of golf with friends Greg Orme, Bobby Titcomb and Mike Ramos.
The group played for more than five hours. Although the president missed the final putt on the 18th hole, he got a big cheer from the bystanders on the road next to the Mid-Pacific Country Club.
The group left the golf course at 6:33 p.m. and returned to their Kailua compound, where the first family planned to spend the rest of New Year's Eve.
Obama arrived in Hawai'i on Christmas Eve and is scheduled to be back in Washington on Tuesday.
The Honolulu-born Obama, who graduated from Punahou School in 1979, is in Hawai'i for the first time since being sworn in as president. He was president-elect when he and his family spent 12 days on O'ahu in December 2008.
During the 2008 campaign, the family vacationed here in August, and Obama returned in October 2008 to visit his ailing grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died two days before the election.