Excited islanders wait for hours, hoping to see or meet President Obama and family.
Today was an interesting day for me. I am originally from Martha’s Vineyard so the idea of President Obama visiting my hometown is especially exciting to me.
I started off the day at the press filing center at the Oak Bluffs Elementary school, which incidentally was the elementary school I went to as a kid, and met up with a few Boston photographers I know to trade rumors and find out if anyone knew anything more than I did about the first family’s arrival.
I was a kid when Clinton visited the Vineyard but I remember him being extremely visible and open to the public.
Obama’s arrival, on the other hand, was kept very secret. Air Force One landed off the Island at a Cape Cod Air Force base. When Clinton visited, Air Force One landed to much applause at the airport and the first family shook hands with supporters on the tarmac.
Obama took Marine One (the presidential helicopter) to the Vineyard. No one was sure what the plan was -- if he was going to land in the back yard of the farm he is staying at, eliminating all public contact, or if there would indeed be some kind of public arrival at the airport.
I left the filing center and drove to the airport, but there were no crowds. There was nothing to let a person know the president was just two hours away from landing: no crowds, no signs, not even any visible police.
I panicked, thinking they must be landing him at the farm and I would miss any chance of a photo of him.
Just as I was thinking of a plan B, a friend called letting me know a large crowd had gathered at Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury. The store is located at the town center of West Tisbury, if you can even call it that. There's just a small bakery, the public library and Alley’s General Store, but most importantly, it is about 200 yards down the road from the entrance to Blue Heron Farm, the luxury faux farm the Obama family is spending the week at.
I rushed over to find a fairly large crowd holding signs and eagerly awaiting the first family’s arrival. I got some frames of the crowd and then awaited the motorcade’s arrival.
At around 3:15 p.m. we heard the sirens and the crowd started cheering wildly. We were met by what seemed like a squadron of state police on motorcycles, then a row of about a dozen large, black SUVs.
As each one passed, the crowd peered into the back windows hoping to get a glance of the president. Some claimed to see him waving out of the window, wearing a checkered shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
I was not so lucky, however. I was on the other side of the street, getting the shot of Alley’s in the background of the motorcade. I wasn’t able to get a shot through the tinted glass, but it was still a wild sight to see the presidential motorcade pass by little old Alley’s General store, a store that is so small in a town so sparsely populated that they keep the candy and gum on a shelf next to the closet they use for the post office.
Enterprise photographer Tim Correira, a Martha’s Vineyard native, sent in this report from the island.