US President Barack Obama has fulfilled a campaign promise to his better half by taking Michelle out on a quintessential New York evening - dinner and a Broadway show.
The first couple, who flew-in from Washington, ate at Blue Hill, a restaurant off Washington Square Park that specialises in cuisine from the Hudson Valley, and went to the Belasco Theater near Times Square for a performance of
Joe Turner's Come and Gone, the Tony-nominated August Wilson play.
It was the Obamas' first joint visit to the city as the first couple.
"I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished," the president said in a statement.
"I thought I was dreaming," said Kecia McCowen, a 45- year-old utility worker and student from Brooklyn; she bought tickets for the show three days ago, but found out that the Obamas would be there only after she arrived.
Along Avenue of the Americas, pedestrians stopped to wave, snap pictures and press against metal barricades as the Obamas' motorcade zipped by, New York Times reported.
Times Square was even more frenetic than usual, as throngs of pedestrians -- certainly including many tourists -— lined several blocks waiting to catch a glimpse of the Obamas.
The presidential date night began with a late-afternoon flight from Andrews Air Force Base. They landed at Kennedy International Airport and after taking a quick helicopter ride to Lower Manhattan, the presidential motorcade snaked its way up to Blue Hill restaurant.
Hours before the show began, the Secret Service cordoned off the entire block of 44th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Broadway, where the Belasco is located.
Ernie Hudson, one of the show's stars, insisted that the cast did not have butterflies. "We're all very excited," he said. "You really can't do anything differently. You always do your best show possible."
The Obamas arrived at the theatre in a black stretch limousine just before 8 p.M., but lines at the metal detectors delayed the show more than 45 minutes, the Times said.
When the Obamas walked down the aisle to take their seats, "it was utter pandemonium," said Tim Johnson, who was in the audience, and described a scene of shouting, clapping and a long standing ovation.
About 11:30 p.M., the Obamas emerged from the theatre. The president waved to a crowd waiting outside.
While the Obamas' visit to New York was considered private, there was some very public criticism of the trip. In a press release, the Republican National Committee said that the outing was inappropriate and that Obama was out of touch, especially given the looming bankruptcy of General Motors.
Shortly afterward, the White House quickly relayed a message to reporters from Obama saying he was taking Michelle to New York to honour his campaign promise.