For Oak Harbor’s residents, July 5 was supposed to be the day following Independence Day — just another summer day.
Instead, it turned out to be a day residents of this small town will not forget.
That was the day that President Barack Obama passed through Oak Harbor and spent roughly an hour-and-a-half eating and speaking with people at Kozy Corners Restaurant on Route 163. Now, when driving by Kozy Corners, a sign accurately reads, “Cheeseburgers good enough for a president.”
|President Barack Obama poses with Frank and Debbie DiMasso
of Oak Harbor at the Kozy Corners restaurant. (Photo courtesy
of Valerie Winterfield)
For the record, Obama had a cheeseburger, fries, iced tea and a piece of strawberry pie — the latter of which he shared with an elderly woman and a child. Sitting with him at the table was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who is Obama's national campaign co-manager.
“All right, I'm going to eat my burger,” Obama joked to the crowd before chowing down. “And everybody just pretend like I'm not here.”
For those living in Oak Harbor, this was a chance to, for a moment, anyways, feel a connection with the president, the man who holds the highest office in the land. His visit transcends politics – whether it is a Democrat or a Republican, it was the President of the United States, and residents say they are proud that he chose to visit their hometown.
The president's visit made Oak Harbor residents feel, for once, that they were the center of everyone's attention.
Before entering the diner, Obama greeted a number of people who were gathered in anticipation of his arrival. He entered the restaurant, where he was welcomed by Sandy Konieczny, who owns Kozy's with her husband Carl. The president proceeded to greet people waiting inside, making small talk with a number of the patrons.
Obama was passing through after making a speech at the Wolcott House Museum in Maumee and was heading to Sandusky for an ice cream social as part of a two-day “Betting on America” tour that saw the president travel through Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Obama will be back in Ohio a number of times between now and the November election as the Buckeye State, a key swing state, is considered by virtually all political analysts to be among the most important states in the battle for the presidency. Recent polls show Obama with a slight lead both nationally and in Ohio over former Massachusetts Governor and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Before leaving, Obama left a message on the wall which stated, “Thanks, Kozy Corners — great food and great people.”
His meal, along with Governor Strickland's, cost $23.56, and the President left $40, including a $16.44 tip. The restaurant owners immediately grabbed and cleaned his plate, and then found a place to store it after the president left.
“He was just so friendly with everybody,” Sandy Konieczny said. “It was good to see that our president was so nice and could talk with people so easily.”
Obama's visit emerged nationally when Julia Konieczny, Sandy's granddaughter, remarked that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who was traveling with the president, “(had) adorable glasses.”
Oddly enough, her remark was the subject of a number of national articles written about the president's trip. For the record, Julia did, in fact, confirm to The Press that she finds Carney to be “adorable.”
Her brother, Mark, 17, who was standing near the front door when Obama entered, said, “It was an exciting day. (Meeting the president) made it a heck of a lot more memorable. It was amazing.”