Windward couple has two separate Obama encounters - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Windward couple has two separate Obama encounters

Scotty East Scotty East
Jerry East Jerry East
Bomb-sniffing dogs check cars entering the Kailua neighborhood where the president-elect is vacationing for the holidays Bomb-sniffing dogs check cars entering the Kailua neighborhood where the president-elect is vacationing for the holidays

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KAILUA (KHNL) -  President-elect Barack Obama's homecoming continues to cause quite a stir among his supporters in Hawaii.  Sunday, there was much interest and excitement in the windward neighborhood where he's staying.  This is Obama's first visit to Hawaii since his historic win in November.

He is here in Hawaii for the holidays with his family, to rest and relax before his inauguration next month.  Bbut as he tries to do that, many are making the effort to catch a glimpse of our next president.

Scotty East is fascinated by famous people: celebrities, politicians, dignitaries.  Her husband Jerry is a bit more low key.  While Scotty wanted to see Obama, Jerry wanted to avoid the hoopla, but both of them have Obama stories of their own.

Scotty East is a retired 70-year-old who lives in Kaneohe.  She enjoys spending her free time looking for celebrities.  Her mission Sunday was to catch a glimpse of president-elect Barack Obama.

"This is just a delight and we're thrilled to death and we just wish him all the best," she said.

On the other hand, her husband, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jerry East, wanted a low-key morning.

"I said, ‘Well, I'm going to go to the gym," said the 75-year-old military man.  "I need a workout and I know what the morning's going to unfold if I go with you. So I'm just going to get my workout.'"

He worked out at a gym called the Semper Fit Center, located inside Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.  That's where Obama was that morning.

"It was so funny because here's my wife chasing him all over the island and I was at the facility where he was in just a few minutes before I got there," said Lt. Col. East.

After his workout, Obama came back to the Kailua house he and his family are renting in this neighborhood.

Naturally security is very tight here.  They're taking every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of the president-elect and his family.  That includes closely checking every car that goes in, even with bomb sniffing dogs.

Early Sunday afternoon, Obama left to play a round of golf.  He waved to passersby from his black SUV.

"I really am pleased that I was there this morning," said Lt. Col. East.

Mrs. East followed him to the golf course for a closer look.

"I'm just delighted to be here and I'm so happy he's going to be our president," she said. "And I think our whole world is going to turn around, let alone our country."

While Lt. Col. East decided to stay home, he shares his wife's enthusiasm.

"I think a great deal of president-elect Obama," he said.  "And I think we have a good future ahead of us."

Mrs. East got close enough to tell Obama, she loves him.  He acknowledged her with a smile and a wave.

And members of the Hawaii Democratic Party are also thrilled the president-elect decided to come home for the holidays.

Spokesperson Chuck Freedman said having a person from Hawaii make it to the highest office in the nation gives hope to many in our state.

"It's a source of pride for all of us because he's an example of the diversity we believe we stand for here and the excellence island style," he said. "It also speaks well for the notion that you can take the person out of Hawaii, but you can't take Hawaii out of the person, and part of what he is, is where he came from."

Freedman says the rest of the country and the world are finally catching up to Hawaii in terms of embracing diversity and approaching problems with aloha.

He hopes Obama and his family continue to make Hawaii their second home.

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