President Barack Obama swooped in to a field at Kirkland’s Northwest University Friday on his helicopter Marine One, in transit from a speech at Everett's Paine Field, before boarding a motorcade bound for fundraisers in Bellevue and Medina.
Perhaps 200 Houghton-area residents lined 53rd Street and 108th Avenue along the university, watching as several government helicopters landed, and cheering as the motorcade passed. The motorcade was led by dozens of motorcycle police and followed by dark SUVs full of heavily armed Secret Service agents and other police.
“It’s so exciting!” said Nicole Rand of Bellevue, a 23-year-old student at the university, standing along 53rd and waiting for the president’s helicopters to land. “On Wednesday they did drills here with the helicopters. So we knew something was up.
“It’s like the biggest thing that’s happened on campus.”
Said Rand’s friend, Briana Wondra, a 20-year-old student from California: “We were thinking of making signs and getting out lawn chairs!”
Dozens of police, on motorcycles, in squad cars and SUVs, gathered at the campus some two hours before the president’s arrival, cordoning off the former Seattle Seahawks practice area with police tape. About 45 minutes before the president arrived in one of at least six dark government helicopters, a lone King County Sheriff’s chopper circled the sky above the school.
A.J. Boden, who lives in the neighborhood, happened by the scene before the choppers landed while walking her dogs. “That’s awesome,” she said when told the president was coming. “I knew he was in the area, but I didn’t know he was going to be here!”
But other local residents had a good clue due to the helicopter activity on Wednesday, when some eight government choppers landed, apparently as a drill in preparation for the real thing.
“We learned about it when all the helicopters were here two days ago,” said Karen Todd, who lives near the university. “It was awesome. One had “USA” written on it, so we assumed it was official.”
Some were so prepared they brought American flags to wave.
“It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in the 30 years we’ve lived here, or at least since the Seahawks were here,” said Todd.
The Seattle Seahawks professional football team maintained its headquarters and a practice facility at the university for 20 years, before moving to a new facility in Renton in 2006.
The president’s stay in Kirkland was brief, 10 to 15 minutes, and the motorcade passed quickly and uneventfully. But the security was impressive and the entire event was a spectacle the crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy.