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Michelle Obama, Girls Arrive in Washington

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Streets Closed Through Jan. 15
Streets Closed Through Jan. 15
By Mary Kate Cannistra - The Washington Post - January 04, 2009
By William Wan and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 4, 2009

Future first lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters slipped into Washington last night, flying in from Chicago a day earlier than expected and checking into their new, temporary home at the posh Hay-Adams Hotel.

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The departure allowed the family a little extra time to get situated before Malia and Sasha Obama begin classes tomorrow at their new school, Sidwell Friends.

President-elect Barack Obama is scheduled to move today to the nation's capital from his home town of Chicago.

It was the start of classes after winter break at Sidwell that drove the Obamas' plans to arrive in D.C. weeks before inauguration and the family's official move into the White House. The family had requested to stay at Blair House, a guest house on Lafayette Park where presidents-elect normally stay ahead of their inauguration. But the White House declined, saying the building was already booked "by White House officials, the State Department and its Office of Protocol for various events."

So the Obamas instead made reservations to stay at the Hay-Adams, just off Lafayette Park.

Even without advance notice of their early arrival, a small crowd formed to greet the Obamas at the hotel, attracted by news cameras staking out the entrance. When the motorcade zoomed into the alleyway behind the building, onlookers strained on tiptoes, with cameras in hand, to see over Secret Service SUVs that largely blocked off the entire scene. No one saw much of anything.

"Michelle, welcome to D.C.!" Annette Martin, 51, yelled anyway.

Another woman whispered, "She's probably heard that a lot already."

"They haven't heard it from me yet," Martin shot back.

There were few signs of pomp and circumstance at the hotel. Employees declined to talk about the family's stay, and the Hay-Adams said it could not confirm that the Obamas would be guests. The most a spokesman would say was that "a lot of different and interesting people stay here."

The Obamas are planning to move from the hotel into Blair House on Jan. 15.

Rucker reported from Chicago.


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