Former President Barack Obama got a warm welcome during his annual holiday visit to Hawaii
Barack Obama just celebrated his first Christmas since leaving office — but a women’s resistance group gave him a reception fit for a president during his annual holiday visit to Hawaii.
When Windward ReSisters, a women’s movement based in Obama’s native Hawaii, heard he was returning to the islands with his family for the holidays, they decided to welcome the former president by singing Christmas carols outside the Paul Mitchell estate in lanikai, where the Obamas were staying.
“We got our group together on Saturday and went with our pussy hats and Santa hats and proceeded to Christmas carol in front of the estate,” group member Darlene Mandel tells PEOPLE.
“We sounded terrible,” Mandel joked.
But their efforts paid off.
Obama, who was hosting a Christmas party at the estate that evening, took a break to come outside and visit with the caroling group.
“After about 10 minutes, he came out with three Secret Service agents and I was ready with my trusty camera,” Mandel says, noting that Obama shook hands with several of the women and hugged one. “He was joking because my girlfriend spilled champagne on him. It was short and sweet and made our Christmas.”
Footage of the former president shows him laughing and joking with the carolers — and even joining them in a few bars of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Obama can also be heard quipping to the group, “No wonder you’re singing so happy; I didn’t realize there was champagne to go with it!”
“I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas,” he added before heading back inside.
Mandel later posted the video on the private Facebook group Pantsuit Nation, where it quickly garnered nearly 140,000 likes and almost 7,000 comments.
“As far as I know, this is the only informal Christmas greeting he gave this year, besides the Obama family’s official card,” Mandel says.
“He and Ohana (family) are so missed,” she adds.