Presidential enthusiasm touches down in Seward

Crowds lined the Seward Highway below the city’s airport Tuesday morning, in anticipation of a glimpse of President Obama’s arrival. A glimpse was about all they got.

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In Seward, people line up for a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.
In Seward, people line up for a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.


Choppers dance with the landing area ahead of the president's arrival. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.
Choppers dance with the landing area ahead of the president’s arrival. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.

Crowds lined the Seward Highway below the city’s Airport this [tuesday] morning, in anticipation of a glimpse of President Obama’s arrival. As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, a glimpse was about all they got.


officials closed the Seward Highway for more than an hour about a half mile on either side of the intersection with Exit Glacier Road. Despite the distance, crowds parked and walked as far as they could, standing across the road from the airport, hoping to get a look of the president when he landed. Overhead a military helicopter circled, then circled again.. leading the crowd to speculate that the president was on board the craft. Security seemed somewhat understated.. two sawhorses blocked the highway and two security guards waved people to one side of the road.  One, dressed in blue, had the words Secret Service on his vest, the other, dressed in brown, wore a six pointed gold star on his.  He glanced as this reporter walked by.

“Stay on the other side of the street, please. What have you got there?” he said, looking at my shotgun microphone. ” I’m a reporter, I’m taping the helicopter.”  “Okay,” he said.

The three Osprey’s military aircraft sent in for security purposes flew in, looking like science fiction come to life.. wings tips at right angles and rotor blades whirling, as they landed one by one in advance of the president.

Despite the wait, Seward folks were standing proud, eager to see Obama if they could.  Comments heard from the crowd reflected a generally positive attitude toward the president’s visit.

“I’m just glad that the president’s going to be here. I think it is very exciting. I’m glad to see that everybody’s out and in a good mood and that it’s a beautiful day, very excited.” said a man named Jim. 

“I’m super excited. This is the neatest thing that has happened to Seward in like a million years. It’s just cool. And it’s a beautiful day and a I mean, what better way to welcome the president, ” said a woman who would not give her name.

Two members of the environmental group Alaska Rising Tide, handed out free t-shirts and commented to this reporter about their displeasure at the president’s go ahead for Shell drilling in the Chukchi, but they seemed to be the only ones present critical of the preside

But Obama’s plan to tape a reality show with a British outdoorsman while in Seward drew some amused comments.

“You guys know who Bear Grylls even is?  Some guy from Alabama, my friend Tammy had to tell me who he even is.” “Is that for real?” “He’s taping

with him, here , in your town.” “There are enough people here who know the real thing so they don’t need to give it to amateurs. ”

“What’s he going to do, eat a piece of grass? Yeah, they’re going to have a helicopter standing by.” ” You can melt snow to make water if you need to, it’s so tough.”

“I think it’s going to be pretty interesting to see President Obama go out there. I’d like to see his wilderness skills. Can he find a blackberry instead of just tweet from one?”

After more than an hour, the big, historic, moment finally came.. and cheers went up. A line of black, annonymous looking SUV s could be seen in procession along Airport Road, followed by official cars with red and whites flashing.

And just like that, the motorcade flashed by and was gone in less than a minute.

APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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