Decatur Welcomes Obama: See our Gallery and Share Your Photos

Obama praised Decatur's pre-school programs during his visit on Thursday. Hundreds turned out to see the president.

Georgia may be a red state, but the City of Decatur really blew it out for President Obama on Thursday.

About 500 loud, cheering supporters greeted the president in the Decatur Recreation Center gym shortly after he visited a city preschool--one that he said exemplified how early childhood education should work.

Everybody wanted to see the chief executive. People lined the streets to watch his motorcade pass by on its way to the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center and hundreds gathered outside the rec center. Some held signs to welcome Obama, others took him to task for allowing the use of drones in Afghanistan.

Did you see the president? Did you make a sign to welcome him? Share your photos and video clips with your neighbors by uploading them to this article.

Obama started his Decatur visit by dropping into a pre-K class at ECLC and working with the students. After the rec center speech, teacher Lauren Parks described what happened.

"He walked right in and started interacting with the students," she said. Among the lessons, he replicated a sculpture using geometric shapes. When he left, "He gave a lot of hugs and high fives and fist bumps."

Meanwhile, the crowd in the gym cheerfully waited hours for Obama. Sgt. Phyllis Primus led the pledge of allegiance and Monica Nelson, a Renfroe Middle music teacher, sang the national anthem. The Rev. Nibs Stoupe of Oakhurst Presbyterian said a prayer.

About 60 Decatur teachers marched in and received a big round of applause as they took their places on tiers behind the podium, creating a human backdrop for the president's speech.

People waited a little more and Mary McMahon, teacher of the year at the ECLC, took the podium and introduced the president.  “I hope he had as much fun as we did. We had a blast," she said.

Obama bounded up the steps to the podium and the gym exploded in cheers and applause.

In his speech, Obama referred to his class visit, saying,

So at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center that I visited earlier today, nearly 200 little kids are spending full days learning in classrooms with highly qualified teachers.  And so I was working with them to build towers and replicate sculptures and sing songs.  And, look, I’ve got to admit, I was not always the fastest guy on some of this stuff.  The kids were beating me to the punch.  But through this interactive learning, they’re learning math, writing, how to tell stories. 

 The president acknowledged a few people at the beginning of his speech: U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Decatur School Board.

When he finished, Obama came down from the podium and gladhanded people in the crowd for about five minutes.

The president's visit seemed to go smoothly and adhered to the schedule created by the White House. He landed at Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, visited the ECLC and the gym and headed back to Dobbins. Altogether, he spent about three hours in Georgia.

Corurtney Burnett, the spokeswoman for the City Schools of Decatur, said the system got word about a week ago that Obama might visit Decatur as a way to promote his early education initiative, which was mentioned in the Tuesday night State of the Union address. The visit was confirmed Sunday.

The school system immediately sent messages to the parents of pre-K parents, telling them about the president's visit. The school system is on winter break, but the pre-K students and staff came back one day for the president. Burnett said few pre-K parents passed up the chance.

Preparations at the gym have been going on for days. The city borrowed blue floor coverings from Decatur High to protect the gym floor, said Assistant City Manager David Junger. The White House took care of logistics and provided all the extra bleachers, lighting, sound system and even the generators, he said.

This was no day to disrespect the law. Besides the Secret Service agents around the president, a full array of uniformed law enforcement officers made themselves obvious.

A team of DeKalb County motorcycle officers led the president's motorcade. Decatur Police Chief Mike Booker said the city also got help from the DeKalb police and sheriff's office, the Cobb County police, the DeKalb solicitor's and district attorney's office, the Doraville police and other agencies. The city had to pay overtime to about 20 of its own officers, Booker said.

See also:

Obama's Visit Excites Decatur





Sara coe February 14, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Was a fun day I added photos of my view of his cars
Truthseeker February 15, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Sure the federal government should now provide "free" pre school. Here's the state of the union. We're BROKE. Stop spending money we don't have. President Obama you have added 5.8 Trillion dollars to the debt in your first 4 years. Please stop campaigning get back to Washington and actually get to work on your promise made 4 years ago. You know when you said " I'll cut the deficit in half in my first term."
James Bond February 15, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Truthseeker, Stop watching Fox "Opinion" and read the facts for yourself: A) Two unfunded wars- Republican Initiative B) Prescription Drug Bill- Republican Initiative C) Tax Cut- Republican Lead D) Repeal of Glass Stegall- Republican Initiative Add them up and you have our present condition. Look at the congressional record and see who actually VOTED for the increases. Stop the lies!
Sandra Hampton February 15, 2013 at 05:00 AM
@ James Bond......Very well stated! @ Truthseeker.....lmbo
clm1950 February 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM
This is a very bias'd report. There was a group of children at the location holding signs asking the President to tell the USDA to confiscate the Ringling Circus Elephants. How much trouble would it have been to write a paragraph about the protest. The President was't the only newsworthy story in town.
Truthseeker February 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM
James, You seem to be stuck in the Obamabot position the administration wants you to be in. The FACTS are that GWB has not been President for over 4 years. GWB ran up 3.283 trillion in 8 years. Obama in 4 years has run up trillion dollar plus deficits every year. Currently under Oweblamo's watch we are under water 5.8 Trillion. Yes that is in 4 years. So what does he start his new term with? Oh what a shocker spend, spend, spend. But I forgot - it's GWB fault. Thanks for clarifying. Maybe you should turn off the Government run news you seem to be watching. 1) North Korea goes nuclear under Obama 2) Al Qeada
Truthseeker February 15, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Sorry, I hit enter too soon. 2) Al Qeada has spread to many more countries. 3) Eqypt under Muslim Brotherhood 3) The defense department will be "decimated" ( their word) under sequestration. BTW sequestration was Obama's idea. 4) The Mac Daddy of all spending/ Government takeover ideas - Obamacare. a 2700 page unread manifesto. Sold as not adding "one dime" to the deficit and costing under 1 trillion. Before it has even been fully implemented it is now forecast to cost 2.6 trillion. Nice talking to you. You can resume being ignorant of facts. Your children and grandchildren will hate you for it.
Stephen W. Ramsden February 15, 2013 at 12:30 PM
wow, the president of the frikkin United States visits our community and hangs with a bunch of kids in a great disply of America and all you guys can do is argue about politics. turn off the TV folks and get involved in making a positive difference in the world. Jeesus!
Anna Varela February 15, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Thanks for sharing your photos, Sara!
FamilyOfFour February 15, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Giving kids the greatest education from birth to 18 is the best investment any country can make. Education fixes crime, poverty, abuse, etc. Instead of this turning into a red vs. blue, it would be nice to see lists of good things or positive impacts that all of our presidents have done. If we put all the good stuff into a simple list, it would help guide us in the right direction. Educating ALL of our young children poor, rich, handicapped, etc... is in the PLUS column. Yes below are programs that have been more successful than others. We can learn from that. :) Gerald Ford: Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 Lyndon Johnson: Child Nutrition Act and Head Start in 1965 Richard Nixon: Increased school integration in the late 1960's & Education Amendments of 1972 specifically title IX equal education & sports for boys and girls. Franklin Roosevelt: Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill), FDR’s Works Progress Administration built over 4,000 new schools & repaired over 30K. Bill Clinton: Goals 2000: Educate America Act George W. Bush: No Child Left Behind 2001 Abraham Lincoln: The Morrill Land-Grant Act in 1860 "Land Grant Universities" Dwight D. Eisenhower: Created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in 2953 & also the National Defense Education Act of 1958 Woodrow Wilson: Created the first federal aid package for education Harry Truman: Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act of 1946
Brian Crawford February 16, 2013 at 02:04 AM
First of all, we are far from broke. We are still the richest nation on earth and while it doesn't look like Obama will achieve the 50% deficit reduction he had hoped for, he should achieve 35% if the budget projections for FY2013 hold up.
Truthseeker February 16, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Brian, I don't know what kind of choom you smoke but we are borrowing 46 cents of every dollar we spend. That dear sir, is broke. When you spend a dollar and have to borrow 46 cents. It means you're broke. Obviously you're not a math major. He said he would cut a deficit that was 10 Trillion in half. That means he would cut it to 5 trillion. It is now 16 trillion and counting. He has added between 1.2 and 1.3 trillion every year. His policy is more bloated,big government spending, more class warfare and demagoguery . But don't let that get in the way of your Obama worship. I also know you patrol these boards and probably many others, in defense of Obama. I will hence forth ignore your continuing blithering defense of the indefensible.
Brian Crawford February 16, 2013 at 03:19 AM
For the record, North Korea has had a nuclear program since at least 1989 and began weapons testing during Bush's second term.
Brian Crawford February 16, 2013 at 03:21 AM
You're confusing debt with deficits. Bush's last budget was FY '09 which resulted in a $1.4 trillion deficit. FY '13 (Obama's 4th FY budget) is projected to produce a $900 billion deficit, a reduction of 35% over Obama's first 4 yrs. Here's my analysis of the debt which is another thing altogether. http://dacula.patch.com/blog_posts/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-the-national-debt-but-were-afraid-to-ask-a-liberal
Robbi McCaig February 16, 2013 at 01:03 PM
Family of Four, the best investment any country can make in children is the traditional family. Every study done, shows that the "investment" of programs like Head Start, diminish by third grade. Why? It's because so many of the kids are trophy kids of a single parent who doesn't spend any meaningful time with them.
Truthseeker February 16, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Brian, Brian, Brian, you and Rex Nutting's (appropriate name) analysis of Obama's thriftiness have long ago discredited. You can keep up with your idiotic responses, and I know you will, in hopes that the dreadfully uneducated, misinformed will be fooled. Please just stop blaming all of Obama's directed and signed for spending on GWB. GWB has not been President for over 4 years. Our deficit has ballooned over 6 trillion under his watch. Leaders lead, liars, lie. We are both very aware of which one Obama is. You are really delusional about Obama if you look at his record and find him a paragon of frugalness. 3,2,1......
Reality & Logic February 21, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Truthseeker, I agree. The government should not be providing free preschool in the first place. Furthermore, it has been proven over years of studying it that programs such as Head Start, for example, do not work. It's a gigantic waste of taxpayer dollars.
Reality & Logic February 21, 2013 at 03:59 PM
James, Obama is continuing all the war mongering that Bush supposedly started. (It's actually been going on for years before that.) Obama is just Bush on steriods! Obama is as bad as Bush is as bad as Obama.
Reality & Logic February 21, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Stephen, geez. The president of the frikkin US is nothing but a stooge for the corrupt, crony capitalists that own him (as was Bush.) A corrupt politician is nothing to get excited about, in other words.


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