Martha's Vineyard prepares for possible Obama vacation

Published: Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 16:20 [IST]
 

Washington, May 5 (ANI): Though the White House says President Obama and his family have "no plans" to vacation on Martha's Vineyard this August, businesses on the island for the rich and famous are preparing for a possible "First Family" visit.

Well-connected residents of Martha's Vineyard, a seashore paradise, say President Obama has rented a home in the East Chop neighborhood of Oak Bluffs -- a town on the island's northeastern shore that is rich in African-American history.

Notable black Americans have owned homes in Oak Bluffs, including writer Dorothy West, former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, and New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the first African-American congressman from the East Coast since Reconstruction.

Other celebrities, including Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey, have been frequent guests in the island community, Fox News reports.

Oak Bluffs is gearing up for Washington royalty as the Obamas' popularity on the island is palpable.

Art galleries lining Vineyard Haven's main street are adorned with paintings of the president. The Crocker House Inn is arranging a Michelle Obama "welcome bag" filled with island delicacies and local flowers. And Mocha Mott's coffee shop is brewing a special roast called "Mochabama" -- a blend of black and white chocolates, store owner Tim Dobel told FOXNews.com.

"His visit would be great for business," said Andrew Gilmore, a worker at the island's landmark retail store, The Black Dog.

Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce executive director Nancy Gardella could not confirm that the president will be staying here this summer, but said "people are definitely talking about it."

Gardella said she is working to create a Web site where islanders can post activity suggestions for the first family, such as a kayaking trip out to Cape Poge in Chappaquiddick or a trip to the island's most popular ice cream store.

"The vineyard has a long history of presidential hospitality, and we would be thrilled to welcome the president and his family," she said.

Bill and Hillary Clinton made several trips to Martha's Vineyard in the 1990s, often staying at friends' homes in Edgartown.

Though the island has an eclectic mix of people, Gardella and others said Martha's Vineyard has long appealed to the rich and famous because "you can walk around without having a shave and nobody cares."

While residents express excitement over a possible presidential visit, the question most whispered in local taverns is: From whom might Obama be renting a vacation home?

"No oyster knife has cracked that one open just yet, but all bets are on Ron Davenport, Wayne Budd, or Charles Ogletree," said a local businessman, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Obama, who does not own a vacation home, visited Martha's Vineyard last August to attend a campaign fundraiser at the waterfront home of Ron Davenport -- chairman of Pittsburgh-based Sheridan Broadcasting Corp., the largest African-American-owned communications network in the United States.

The president has stayed at the Oak Bluffs home of Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree -- a close confidant -- on several occasions, beginning in 2004 after the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett also has a home in Oak Bluffs.

Planned visit or not, residents say the buzz over an Obama retreat is a boost to the island's economy. (ANI)


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