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Martha's Vineyard Welcomes Obamas


Martha's Vineyard, an island off the northeast coast of the United States, is about to host a prominent holiday guest. U.S President Barack Obama, along with his family, media and security personnel, arrive 23 August for a week-long summer vacation.

The anticipation among Martha's Vineyard residents is great. "In general, people are very excited," said Nancy Gardella, the executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce.

"I think people are optimistic that the first family will visit certain events or stop in different stores, restaurants. But it almost doesn't matter what they do, we're just so excited that they chose Martha's Vineyard again for a family destination, for vacation, and our hope is that they have a great time while they're here," she said.

The Obamas are renting Blue Heron Farm, an estate owned by a Mississippi businessman who is a registered Republican. The waterfront property includes a swimming pool, and perhaps most important to the president, a basketball court.

"It's in the town of Chilmark, it's in a more rural area, in what's known as up island," said Gardella of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. "And we understand that the primary reason for renting this particular home is so that the president and first family can be very safe and well protected while they're here."

This is not the first time the Obamas have visited Martha's Vineyard -located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The first couple has spent time with friends in Oak Bluffs, an historic African American area.

President Obama will be accompanied by his wife Michelle, their daughters Malia and Sasha, and the family dog Bo.

Martha's Vineyard is no stranger to presidential visits. Former President Bill Clinton spent several vacations there while he was in the White House, and the late former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis owned a house on the island.

Local businesses and restaurants are quick to get in on the excitement surrounding the presidential visit. "Our local microbrewery will be tapping this weekend 'Ale to the Chief,'" said Gardella. "We have an 'Obamarita' that has been launched at our local Mexican restaurant, and the 'Beefy Bobama biscuit' was launched at the Farmer's Market this weekend in celebration of Bo Obama coming to the island."

Massachusetts is a strongly Democratic state. But Gardella said the enthusiasm goes beyond politics. "There's a new energy that we haven't experienced in several years. And I think that having young children in the White House contributes to the fun of the first family and what they bring when they come on vacation."

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