Sen. Barack Obama shook hands yesterday at a rally at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park. Obama is in Hawaii for a vacation and is expected to be in the islands for a week.
Teens eagerly lend support, also sweeping up parents in their enthusiasm
Fourteen-year-old Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence eagerly waited in a long line and under the scorching sun to see Barack Obama at Keehi Lagoon.
"I've never heard him speak. I only saw him on YouTube," she said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience!"
Obama's campaign has reached many young people, like Kimiko, who were among the thousands of supporters at yesterday's campaign rally.
Many children sat atop their parents' shoulders, clapping and cheering during his roughly 17-minute speech. Some parents said they took time off from work after their children expressed how eager they were to hear Obama speak.
The rally came as a last-minute surprise for Kimiko, who moved to Hawaii from Washington, D.C., a few days ago.
She and a friend canvassed her Shepherd Park neighborhood this year to help gain support for Obama during the Washington, D.C., primary.
The teenager said she read a newspaper article about Obama's rally at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park. She told her father, "We gotta get out there."
"I made him come," she said of her father, Charles. "I dragged him here."
Charles Lawrence, a teacher, pegged today's youth as the "Jon Stewart" generation, full of cynicism.
With Obama's campaign, a positive shift has occurred, he said. "I think people really feel it," Lawrence said, adding that there is a level of enthusiasm that has not been seen before. "I think young people pick up on it."
Kimiko, who will soon attend the University of Hawaii Laboratory School as a freshman, noted how Obama represents a multiethnic society.
Kimiko, who is of African-American, Japanese, Okinawan and American Indian descent, gently pumped her fist as she said, "I feel like this is a real change. He'll be a new face for us."
Anxious to hear the presidential candidate in person after hearing about the rally on the news, Avis Questel, 14, of Pearl City said she asked her sister, Myra, 16, and father, Phillip, to attend the rally with her.
"I just wanted to see him," Avis said. She and her sister said they believe Obama can serve as a true representative for America.
Her father shared his daughters' enthusiasm for Obama. "They want change. They want something different," he said.