Beachgoers turn paparazzi at Obama's vacation rental


POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Barack Obama spent most of the day at his oceanfront vacation rental home in Kailua yesterday as beachgoers - some them with long camera lenses and binoculars in their hands - stood or sat at a distance in the hope of catching a glimpse of the president-elect.





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Meanwhile, many vehicles and bicyclists on Kailuana Place, the road leading to the $9 million property, either stopped on the side of the road or made slow U-turns yards away from the security guard booth at the entryway of the Aikahi end of the street.

Obama and wife Michelle headed to the gym at Marine Corps Base Hawaii sometime before 7:30 a.m. on the second full day of their 10-day Christmas vacation. Some area residents watched the motorcade pass and took photos as they left the affluent Kailua neighborhood. Others taking a morning stroll or walking with their dogs stopped to wave.

After about 50 minutes at the gym, Obama left and was met by a group of about 20 onlookers in the parking lot. The president-elect shook hands and briefly chatted with them.


;[Preview] A Look Inside Obama's Vacation Home

There are actually three homes in the compound at the end of Kailuana Place on Castle Point including the home of developer Howard Castle.


Watch ]





He also took time to take a group photo with some Marines, telling them, “;Happy holidays, guys. I appreciate your service,”; before he headed back to his vacation home. His wife stayed behind for a longer workout at the gym.

At about 10:30 a.m., Kailua resident Kyle Gion, 13, stood about two homes away from the security guard booth in awe that Obama was vacationing in his neighborhood, even though he did not get a chance to see him.

“;I still can't get over how close he is,”; said Gion, an eighth-grader at Punahou School. The teenager said he admires how Obama returns to Hawaii, where he was born and raised, to spend his vacations.

“;He still remembers his roots,”; said Gion.

It is the third time Obama has taken a trip to Hawaii this year. Obama spent a weeklong vacation in August in Kailua, where he spent time with family and friends. Two months later, he returned to Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, a woman he described as the cornerstone of the family. Dunham died two days before Obama won the presidency.

While Kailuana Place has experienced more traffic than usual, resident Linda Oifer said many people are respectful of his privacy. “;People want to give him the space that he deserves,”; she said.

Matthew White of Australia and some of his relatives from Connecticut are staying in a rental along Kailua Beach for a family vacation as well. His brother-in-law, Will Rogers, said they did not realize Obama was in town until their taxi driver informed them. White and his relatives strolled along the beach yesterday toward the compound secured by Secret Service agents.

Kailua resident Serena Rovin and her three friends were among beachgoers hoping to get a chance to meet Obama. The group of friends are on a winter break from their studies at Western Washington University. Friend Jennifer Lowe said it is exciting the president-elect is staying in the small, quaint town.

“;He's such an inspiration,”; she said.


Media pool reporter Carol Lee of Politico contributed to this report.