WASHINGTON — A White House tour group got a huge surprise Tuesday morning as President Donald Trump himself made an appearance.
The tour group, including many young children, cheered and screamed as the President popped out from behind a room divider.
Trump called fifth-grader Jack Cornish of Birmingham, Alabama, toward him, gave him a hug, and posed together for a photo. Cornish, 10, appeared to flash an “OK” sign as Trump gripped his shoulders.
“Work hard, everybody, work hard,” he said, standing in front of a portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton.
Trump waved to the group as he walked away.
“Really? That was awesome!” a young girl said after his departure. Many in the group were visibly surprised and excited by his brief appearance.
Tuesday marks the first day of White House public tours resuming, following an unusually long break in between the Obama and Trump administrations.
Previous administrations of both parties have had someone in charge of the visitors center within days or weeks of the inauguration and quickly opened the White House doors to the public.
First lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff Lindsay Reynolds attributed the pause to routine maintenance.
“We are using this time to tend to routine maintenance, updates and renovations along the tour route to ensure the guest experience is top notch,” she said in a statement last month.
Tours, which are self-guided and last about 45 minutes, must be requested through members of Congress. A call placed Monday to the District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office found the soonest available tour to be in June.
Several people in the crowd Tuesday told the press pool that they made the request in December from their congressional offices, but they didn’t find out until last week that they got tickets.