On the news tonight, Ottawa had thousands come out and brave the cold to get a glimpse of Obama, this was his first official trip.

Also seen was Air Force One landing in Ottawa, what a site to see!

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Feb 19, 2009 03:54 PM
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Sue Bailey
THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA – A flash of smile and a wave through a window were enough to electrify Barack Obama fans as they lined slush-covered streets to watch the U.S. president's motorcade speed by.

That fleeting brush with high-voltage charisma Thursday left schoolgirls screaming and moved strangers to hug one another.

"He waved at us!" four teenaged girls squealed in unison after the president's armoured limousine turned a corner near Parliament Hill under the close watch of a hovering police chopper.

The teens said their parents allowed them the day off school to witness the first African-American U.S. commander-in-chief making his first foreign visit. They were among hundreds of supporters – many waited for more than two hours – who stood bundled against a damp cold that was just over freezing.

"We love Obama!"

Even game-faced police officers got caught up in the rare moment, including one who posed for a snapshot after the line of bullet-proof black vehicles had passed.

"My son will like a photo," he said.

It was an unforgettable day for Carrie Kristal of Ottawa. She and her husband Henry took their one-year-old niece, Ines, to a corner along the Rideau Canal where they hoped Obama's motorcade would pass. They waited with about 50 other people as the flashing lights and 50-car parade approached.

For a split-second they had a clear view of Obama himself, she said.

"You could very distinctly tell it was the president. He was on our side and he waved at our group. There was just such delight. People who didn't know each other were hugging each other."

Kristal began watching Obama's campaign more than a year ago as it first began to build steam.

"His whole campaign for election was on hope. We see so much here of politicians who want to divide and conquer. There's so much cynicism. And this man was all about hope. He inspired the whole world.

"I'll be telling my one-year-old niece that she got to wave at the president and he waved back. She's a good waver."

The crowd vibe along the motorcade route was one of excitement and easy rapport as strangers swapped stories of why and how far they came.

Marie Schofield and her friend Dagmar Weinert caught a bus at 4 a.m. for the five-hour trip from Kitchener, Ont.

"I think this is special," Schofield said. "It's unique, it's once in a lifetime."

Colin Schultz, 22, who's studying physical science and philosophy at University of Guelph, thinks Canada could use a shot of Obama-style politics.

"It's different from what we've got here. I think if a character with that sort of charisma came into the light in Canadian politics, people would just eat it up. They would just love it.

"You can see it in the way he ran his campaign. He brings a different approach – more about getting people involved, getting people involved to help out themselves. ...

"You can see that he's a different kind of person," Schultz said. "He seems a lot more honest."