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'The bear is loose!' Obama surprises tourists on the mall

President Obama surprised a handful of people around the National Mall with an unannounced walk Wednesday outside the White House.
President Barack Obama (C) waves to pedestrians as he walks through the Ellipse in Washington, DC on May 21, 2014.

"You gotta catch folks by surprise. Can't be regular. Can't be routine."

That was the message from President Obama as he surprised a handful of tourists and locals in Washington, D.C. when he took an unannounced walk Wednesday outside the White House.

"It's good to be out," he said on his stroll. "The bear is loose." 

Obama chatted with about two dozen people in a three-minute video posted to the White House YouTube channel early Thursday

"How's business?" he asked a vendor at the helm of one of the many food trucks that sell hot dogs, pretzels, and ice cream to Washington tourists. 

"The bear is loose."'

"It'll be a wonderful, wonderful ceremony," he said to another two people he met, presumably in town for a funeral or other memorial event at nearby Arlington National Cemetery. "My grandfather was buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific and I still remember the ceremony, flag, Taps. Still chokes me up every time."

He handed out official White House candy to two little girls. But he got the warmest reception from some very enthusiastic tourists who ran over to introduce themselves.

"Hey! America! Freedom! Peace! Hope and charity," one enthusiastic man yelled from a distance when he spots the president. 

"Are you real?" a woman named Anna asked as she shook Obama's hand.

"Yes I am. I'm not wax," he replied.