KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Obama spent time with his daughters Thursday, taking them bowling at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe and then heading for shave ice at their regular spot, Island Snow in Kailua.
The president began his day as he usually does, going to the gym at the Marine Corps base, according to pool reports.
It wasn't really shave ice weather: skies were gray, the winds were occasionally gusty and there had been some rain. But some people knew what was coming when Secret Service agents arrived and Honolulu Police started blocking off Kailua Road. A few minutes later, just before 4 p.m., the presidential motorcade turned up from Kalaheo Road and into the Island Snow parking lot.
"We came for a shave ice because it was a bit wet on the beach, and shook the hand of the President of the United States of America. You don't get to do that everyday," said Nigel Watson, visiting from Melbourne, Australia.
"We were actually in the store and what turned out to be Secret Service knocked on the door and let us out, and then they started roping (us) off, and -- yeah, it was a bit of a buzz," said Watson, just a few minutes after the president's visit.
"It was fun but it was sort of a surprise, and I didn't know all those vans were going to come up because they didn't look like police cars," said seven-year-old Eloise Weary of Virginia.
The president, dressed casually in a navy blue polo shirt and jeans, stepped out of an SUV, waved at the gathering and headed into the shop.
"All of a sudden he came in and shook my hand," said Taylor Souza, who started working at Island Snow last summer. "When he shook my hand it felt pretty good, like I got to meet the president, and not that many people get to get that option in their life."
Obama has stopped in at Island Snow every time he's been in the islands.
"The first couple of times was super crazy and shocking. And now he walks in the door, it's like 'I know these guys.' Shakes hands with everybody and gets right in line," said Rich Whaley, an employee who's been in the store for previous presidential shave ice stops.
First Daughters Sasha and Malia walked out with their shave ice cones, along with other members of the family. Then the president walked out with his regular cone, and stepped toward the cordoned off area where about 30 people were waiting to shake his hand.
Watson was able to get a good snapshot of the president and exchange a few words. "I wished him a Happy New Year, and he wished me a Happy New Year in return," he said.
The president also shook little Eloise's hand. "And I'm never going to wash my hand again!" she said.
The whole visit took just about eight minutes. Handshakes done, Obama stepped into the SUV and the motorcade headed back to the Kailua compound where the First Family is staying.
Although the visits are becoming routine, they're not becoming old hat. "He shakes hands with everybody and gets right in line," said Whaley. "So he's getting used to the order of everything and we're getting used to having the president come by. So it's really cool."
The president's shave ice? According to Souza, "Regular cone, no ice cream on the bottom. Melona, lemon lime and cherry."