WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Monday emerged twice from their limousine to respond to wildly cheering crowds along the inaugural parade route from Capitol Hill to the White House.
The couple waved to chanting, flag-waving crowds lining Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the start of Obama's second term. Spectators began shouting "Obama, Obama" as they returned the greetings from the first couple. Many in the crowd used their cellphones for picture-taking to capture the scene. The first lady blew air kisses to the crowd as the couple got back in their limousine after walking about three blocks.
The Obamas later got out of their limousine again closer to the White House, waving and walking hand-in-hand. The crowd roared as the Obamas walked by bleachers in front of the White House, waving and smiling. Michelle Obama occasionally clapped her hands when she wasn't holding hands with the president.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill also left their limousine to acknowledge the crowds. Biden on several occasions bounded over to the barricades to shake hands with spectators and pose with children.
Some spectators who weren't along the route where the Obamas walked said they were happy nonetheless.
Regina Thomas of Goldsboro, N.C., arrived at 6 a.m. to catch what amounted to a glimpse of the president through tinted windows as his limo rolled by. But she said without hesitation it was worth it.
"I got a chance to see the president," she said.
Tara Lucas, 38, an administrative assistant from Pearland, Texas, was satisfied just seeing Obama wave from his limousine along the parade route.
"It was beautiful," she said. "All I saw was a face in a window and it was remarkable."
Her friend Connie Griffin, a 41-year-old electrical engineer from Pearland, agreed.
"You felt the love," she said.
Obama, Biden and their families were among more than 8,800 people, floats and marching bands participating in the late-starting parade that passed before viewing stands and bleachers after Obama's public swearing-in ceremony.
Thousands of people had waited in security lines that stretched a block to gain access to parade-viewing spots accessible to the general public without a special ticket.
Spectators wore Obama t-shirts, ski caps, hoodies and buttons, and one woman wrapped herself in an Obama beach towel for extra warmth.