Obama visits Marines in Hawaii - and entertains the kids

US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle took time from their Hawaii vacation to drop by a Marine Corps base, where they greeted service men and women during Christmas dinner

Obama, who has otherwise kept a low profile during the 11-day family holiday and stayed almost completely out of public view, also visited the same base last year and the year before on Christmas Day.

The president and first lady shook hands, posed for pictures, admired babies and chatted with Marines and their families in the mess hall decked out in Christmas decorations for about 40 minutes.

"Did you get everything you wanted?" Obama asked one little girl, who brandished a bracelet, prompting the president to point out a presumably new bracelet on Michelle's wrist.

The Obama's own Christmas dinner at their oceanfront vacation home consisted of steak, roasted potatoes and green beans, with pie for dessert, the White House said. "The first family is enjoying family and friends, enjoying their traditional Christmas Day activities and taking in a little NBA basketball," said White House spokesman Bill Burton.

  • Obama yesterday (27 December) sought the time-honoured refuge of any parent dealing with damp vacation weather. Clad in shorts and flip-flops, he took the kids bowling and then bribed them with shave ice.

Marshalling a gang of around 10 children, including his own daughters Sasha and Malia, the president spent several hours bowling and playing basketball with family friends before retreating to a favourite haunt, Island Snow ice parlour in Kailua, for a tasty treat of flavoured ice.

“Why don’t you guys go outside so you don’t spill in here,” he instructed the milling children after distributing numerous towering and luridly coloured treats, whose exotic flavours included ‘lolo lilikai’ and ‘godzilla grape’.

Sasha got a yellow and red shave ice and Malia a tropical blue one. The president picked a dazzling blend of melon, cherry and lemon-and-lime for himself.

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