Military helicopters flew over the Island this week as the Vineyard prepared for what is becoming a familiar August event: the arrival Saturday of President Barack Obama for a summer vacation on the Island.
According to a White House official, the president will travel to Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday, August 9. In past years, the president has traveled via Air Force One to Otis Air Station One in Bourne before taking the Marine One helicopter to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.
But in a departure from previous visits, the president will briefly leave the Island during his vacation. The White House official said President Obama is scheduled to depart Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, August 17, to return to Washington, D.C., to attend White House meetings. He is scheduled to return to the Island on Tuesday, August 19. The vacation is scheduled to concluded on Sunday, August 24, when the president returns to Washington, D.C.
The president usually does not have any public events during his trip, but the White House announced that the president will be attending a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser on Monday, August 11. The news website Politico reported that the fundraising dinner will be held at the Vineyard Haven home of Berklee College of Music president Roger Brown and his wife Linda Mason. The house is in the head of the pond area overlooking Lagoon Pond.
This will be the fifth time during his presidency that President Obama visits Martha’s Vineyard; he has vacationed on the Island every summer since he was elected, except for 2012. He also visited the Island before he was president.
The First Family has always rented a home in Chilmark, though they are staying at a new property this year. The First Family will stay at a home off North Road that overlooks Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands.
The house is owned by Joanne Hubschman, a seasonal resident. The secluded three-story home has a pool and a hot tub, two outdoor showers, a tennis/basketball court and several porches that look out over the water and a field dotted with wildflowers.
If the First Family travels with Portuguese water dogs Bo and Sunny (Bo made the trip last year), they should feel right at home: Mrs. Hubschman has a Portuguese water dog named Ruby. A painting by Kathryn Wronski that depicts Bo against a patriotic backdrop hangs in the entrance of the home.
Last year, the Obamas stayed at a home off South Road; the location required part of South Road to be closed throughout the visit. There are no road closures planned for this year.
Vacations on the Island have become a yearly tradition for the president and his family, who follow a vacation routine when they are on the Island. The president heads to the golf course and often plays basketball at the Oak Bluffs School. Favorite dining spots include State Road, Sweet Life and Nancy’s, and the Obamas often go for a bike ride in the State Forest and visit a private beach on the Island’s south shore.
The First Family usually keep a low profile, though rushing motorcades and the presence of Secret Service become ubiquitous during the stay.
Over the past few weeks, telltale signs of the presidential visit have been visible around the Island, from the CNN van parked next to the Edgartown School to V-22 Osprey helicopter sightings to President Obama T-shirts for sale on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs.
Security measures will be in place during the president’s visit. The Federal Aviation Administration has instituted a 30-nautical mile perimeter temporary flight restriction for Martha’s Vineyard from 11:45 a.m. on August 9 through 10:30 p.m. on August 25.
Martha’s Vineyard Airport manager Sean Flynn said the procedures are identical to those in past years. He also advised that people who want to see the president upon arrival should not come to the airport. “We have had people wait for a very long time and have been very disappointed,” he said. “There’s really no good place to view it from.
“It’s always an exciting time to meet and see a sitting president and we are very honored that he comes through here consistently,” Mr. Flynn said.
An overlook at The Trustees of Reservations Menemsha Hills Reservation that is near where the president is staying will be closed during the visit, Trustees superintendent Chris Kennedy told the Gazette Thursday. The rest of the property will be open to visitors.
The president’s trip coincides with the return of a former White House occupant: Hillary Clinton is scheduled to be on the Island on Wednesday, August 13, to sign copies of her new book Hard Choices at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven. Bill and Hillary Clinton visited the Island during the years he was president.