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Obama arrives to spend his 4th Christmas in Hawaii since election

By Rob Shikina

LAST UPDATED: 2:14 p.m. HST, Dec 24, 2011

President Barack Obama touched down on Oahu at 5:52 p.m. today for his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.

His plane landed as the sun was setting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam with breezy winds and the temperature in the upper 70s.

Kaian Langevin, 10, was among dozens of military members and family or friends of the Secret Service who were invited to the private arrival.

Langevin was with his parents and younger sister, who were invited by his mother's friend.

"I think it's OK," he said of his chance to see Obama in person. "I just think that some people would want it more than I would."

Obama was greeted upon his arrival by Lt. Gov.Brian Schatz; Mayor Peter Carlisle; Admiral Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command; and Col. Sam Barrett, commander of the 15th Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

His plane taxied to the viewing area at 6:04 p.m. Dozens of visitors in the viewing area snapped photos. 

He emerged from Air Force One about 6:08 p.m., and jogged down the stairs in a light-blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and brown dress pants. After officials greeted him, he walked over to the waiting crowd and said, "Hello everybody." He also wished "Merry Christmas" to the people.

He smiled widely and spent about 7 minutes shaking hands and signing autographs. At one point, he picked up a baby wearing a hat that looked like a panda cap and kissed another woman on the cheek. He waved goodbye at 6:17 p.m., and got back into a black sport-utility vehicle that whisked him away to his vacation compound.

He was to depart for his vacation compound in Kailua where First Lady Michelle and children Malia and Sasha have been staying since arriving in Hawaii on Saturday. The first family's dog, Bo, also arrived on the flight. 

Obama rolled into this vacation residence at 6:45 p.m. Bright Christmas lights adorned houses in the nearby streets, according to White House pool reports.

It was a big day for Harper Croskey, who turned 5 months old Friday. He sat in the arms of the president and met Santa for the first time. Obama spotted Croskey, who was wearing a panda hat because it was a cold night, in a crowd of well-wishers on the military base.

"I turned him around just to take a picture with him," said Jonathan Croskey, Harper's father. "He (Obama) was like 'Oh I'm great with kids. I'll take him."

As Croskey was trying to take a photo with a new iPhone 4S, Obama held baby Harper and joked that "dad doesn't know how to work his camera."

About 90 minutes before Obama's arrival, the family got a call from a friend with an invitation and dropped everything to show up. They didn't even have time to change Harper's diaper and had to put pants on him.

It is Obama's fourth vacation in Hawaii since he was elected. The first family will leave in early January.

Earlier today, Obama bid "aloha" to reporters in the White House briefing room.

The White House announced the president’s departure plans shortly after the House and the Senate signed off on a deal to extend payroll tax cuts after House Republicans reversed course and dropped their opposition. 

The Senate had already agreed to the two-month deal, but the House GOP refused to budge until Thursday evening.

The president signed the tax extention bill after it passed Congress this morning.

With Washington deadlocked, Obama delayed his annual December trip to Honolulu area, where he was born and mostly raised. He had planned to leave Washington on Dec. 17.

The president’s wife and daughters have been in Hawaii since late last week. The Obamas plan to return to Washington in early January. 



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