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Martha's Vineyard Plays Proud Host to Obamas

President Obama and his family rented an estate for the week of Aug. 23, 2009 on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. The family spent time reading, relaxing, golfing and seeing the sites.

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 25, 2009; 12:10 PM

OAK BLUFFS, Mass., Aug. 25 -- The sign in the window of the Carousel Ice Cream shop here perfectly captures the mood of this island.

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"Today's Special," it reads. "Barack O'Brownie Sundae."

Ingredients: "Barocky Road, Barack-o-Brownie, Whipped Cream, Nuts, Cherry, Hot Fudge."

Martha's Vineyard has hosted Barack Obama before, but not like this. He had been here five, maybe six times in the past decade. But never as president. And that makes all the difference.

Signs everywhere welcome the president to the island, despite the fact that few people who live and work here are likely to even glimpse the commander in chief, who remains largely holed-up in his exclusive, 28-acre resort on the southwest side of the Vineyard.

A few lucky folks might catch a glimpse of the motorcade as it speeds across the island. It's hard to miss here. And some might see him on the semi-private golf course -- playing in the president's foursome on Tuesday were perennial golf buddy Marvin Nicholson, Michael Ruemmler of the advance team, and Sam Kass, who works in the White House kitchen.

Island veterans play the "where will the president go?" game by trading gossip about where they've seen the Secret Service in the previous days. Rumors on the island suggest that the first vacationer may take his girls to an aquarium or to one of the famous ice cream parlors.

But until he ventures out, most here will have to content themselves with the image of the president -- which is everywhere.

One store replaced the face of a life-size likeness of fictional pirate Jack Sparrow with Obama's mug. Another plastered a photo of the first family on its window. The display of a T-shirt shop features several variations of the "I vacationed with Obama" shirt.

And an ice cream parlor touted two specials: The "Magnificent Melia Milkshake" (a cookie dough ice cream plus chocolate and vanilla syrup treat named for the president's eldest daughter, Malia) and the "Sashalicious Smoothie" (a strawberry, peach and mango drink named for her younger sister).

Islanders are used to the celebrity. Bill Clinton vacationed here during his presidency. And there's plenty of A-lister Hollywood types who either have homes here or pass through.

But there's nothing like a sitting president to shake things up. One cabbie noted that a friend of his is a frequent kayaker in the waters along the shore where Obama's compound is. Recently, things have changed a bit.

"He's never seen so many kayakers with guns," the cabbie noted.


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