"You gotta take folks by surprise," Obama said.
President Obama took an impromptu walk along the National Mall this week, both stunning and thrilling the tourists from the U.S. and abroad.
"You gotta catch folks by surprise. You can't be regular. You can't be routine," said the president, suit jacket over one shoulder as he made his way to an event at the Department of the Interior.
The White House on Thursday posted raw video of the rare outing, which took place Wednesday.
"It's good to be out," Obama told reporters. "The bear is loose."
With Secret Service agents nearby, the president shook hands and posed for photos with tourists. He also checked in with a woman selling pretzels and hot dogs to inquire about how business is going and gave some children "special White House M&Ms."
One woman named Anna asked, "Are you real?"
"Yes, I am," the president responded. "I'm not wax."
Another, named Karen, hugged him and declared it "the best day of my life."
"Someone's going to think you're, like, wax," she said as they posed for a photo.
First Lady Michelle Obama has on more than one occasion mused about how lovely it would be to just stroll outside the White House gates and walk to wherever her heart desires, which might be as simple as an ice cream shot. She and former First Lady Laura Bush once jokingly compared living in the White House to being in prison, albeit a "really nice" one.
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(Photo: John Harrington-Pool/Getty Images)