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Crowds wait for President Obama in Orange County

February 16, 2012 |  9:32 am

Crowds of people braved the chill Thursday morning along Coast Highway to catch a glimpse of President Obama’s motorcade as he traveled to a breakfast fundraiser in Corona del Mar.

The scene was distinctly Southern California, as police tied their tape around palm trees to hold back friendly but politically opposed groups at four intersections. The demonstrators peacefully coexisted, starting off at opposite sides of the intersections and then just blending together, taking turns to chant "Four more years" and "No more years."

Nadine Hoffman began her stakeout at 6 a.m. armed with hand-knit mittens and a jean skirt adorned with a peace sign patch.

"I'm here to let everyone know this is not your father’s Orange County," said Hoffman, alluding to the region's conservative reputation. The Laguna Beach resident heard of the president's visit through Moveon.org and was inspired to make her voice heard.

A few yards away, a woman and her horse were attracting more attention without being much louder.

Tea partier Nancy Johnson, 55, rode on her paint horse in a revolutionary soldier's outfit, complete with three-pointed hat and a red feather. She said she was concerned about the president taking away citizens’ right to own weapons.

“He is trying to disarm our country,” Johnson said about Obama. “You take away our weapons, you take our freedom away.”

A young family stood on their balcony in their pajamas, surprised by the sight that awakened them.

“We had no idea this was going on,” said Lindsay and Adam Esparza. They were awakened by the noise and decided to watch the spectacle with their two young children and dog. “This is actually fun.”

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-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News

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