Security was tight during President Obama's visit to the Green Mountains.
From the air, it looks like any other plane. But as soon Air Force One touched down in Burlington Friday morning, the regal 757 aircraft was nothing short of impressive.
President Barack Obama emerged from the doorway, Senator Patrick Leahy by his side. With a wave and a smile the 44th President greeted a small crowd of Vermont Guard members. Rooftop snipers and Secret Service agents kept a close eye on Obama as several Vermont dignitaries welcomed him to the Green Mountains. Minutes later the presidential motorcade whisked him away to his first appearance.
The heavily guarded motorcade made its way down Lime Kiln Road. The procession was led by a string of Vermont State troopers. It was also protected from the sky by an armed helicopter. The first stop was a fundraising luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel. For security reasons the Interstate was shut-down during the trip, causing traffic tie-ups for some motorists. "We were stuck for one hour -- from Montreal coming to Burlington to visit," said one stranded motorist.
Others trying to leave the Queen City by bus encountered a few headaches of their own. Last minute changes to regular pick-up locations left some travelers scrambling. "It was really stressful because I was waiting at the other location and I didn't know. I ended up asking someone next to me, 'so where's Mega Bus?' I ended up rushing over here and I just made it," said Rebecca Webb.
But Obama supporters didn't seem to mind the heightened security or traffic delays. They say it's a minor inconvenience in exchange for the chance to host a sitting president--an event that hasn't happened in Vermont for 17 years. "It's a great experience -- not something you get to see everyday," said Sara Dalton.
"I brought a flag. It's nice to show your American spirit," said Jackson Walsh, a young Obama supporter.
Even if Walsh didn't get a chance to shake President Obama's hand, he was hanging out on Williston Road waiting for the next best thing. "To see the President's motorcade, of course," he said.
After a four hour visit, President Obama was back on Air Force One -- wheels up by 3:30 p.m. and on to Maine for the next fundraising event.