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Texas Town Cashes in on Bush Wedding

So you didn't get your invitation to Jenna Bush's wedding this weekend? No worries.

You can still celebrate the big day with cake and punch at a souvenir shop. You might even pick up a coffee mug or a mouse pad featuring a photo of the happy couple. Or get your picture made in front of the 18-foot angel statue that overlooks the main intersection — which will be wearing a veil and holding a bouquet come Saturday.

The wedding of one of President Bush's twin daughters at his 1,600-acre Central Texas ranch is the social event of the year — maybe the century — in this one-stoplight town. Never mind that few, if any, of its 700 residents are on the guest list. Crawford is still plenty excited.

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Residents and businesses are preparing for an influx of tourists Saturday. Like the Bush family, they have arranged for flowers and ordered wedding cake and souvenirs.

"Remember when Princess Di married? Well, it was a big, big thing, you know. ... It's `Wow — this is royalty,"' said Bill Johnson, owner of the Yellow Rose gift shop. "The president and the family — they are really considered royalty by many folks."

Indeed, the Oscar de la Renta bridal gown, flowers and other items being flown in for the official ceremony will make for an affair not often seen in towns like Crawford, which has two gas stations, a bank, one restaurant and some gift shops.

Dallas caterer Eddie Deen, who has been hired by Bush for numerous events, grinned and said "no comment" when asked if he will cater the wedding. Deen was asked to feed 14,000 people at Bush's 2000 inauguration with just 12 days' notice, then catered two other inaugural events for 4,500 and 3,500 people at the last moment, he said. When he got to Washington, he ended up serving another 10,000 people, he said.

"I think that's the reason why they keep calling us back from D.C. — because we know how to communicate the idea they're trying to communicate," Deen said.

Rural Crawford, which has steadfastly supported Bush, won't be denied its chance to celebrate when Jenna Bush ties the knot with Henry Hager, a former aide to Bush's former top political adviser Karl Rove and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

And if local business make a few dollars on the side, well, that would make the occasion all the happier.

"We think tourists will want to feel part of that special day, even if they're miles away from the ranch and they're not invited, because it's a part of history," said Marilyn Judy, president of the Crawford Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.

A couple of stores are selling the coffee mugs. The Red Bull gift shop, which plans to serve wedding cake and punch Saturday, also is hawking small ceramic ornaments with the couple's name or initials and wedding date, as well as a basket with two white teddy bears representing the couple.

"We're so honored she's getting married here," said Jo Staton, who works at The Red Bull and used to own a ranch near Bush's. "It's so beautiful out there, with streams, trees and wildflowers blooming in the fields. Every hill you see out there is gorgeous."

The blessed union even has affected the dwindling but steadfast group of a dozen or so war protesters left over from the circus that followed Cindy Sheehan when she brought her peace vigil to President Bush's ranch in 2005, which had irked the locals.

The holdouts decided to hold off on their chants and anti-Bush signs until Sunday.

"You don't blame the children for the sins of their parents," said Carl Rising-Moore, who has protested during every Bush visit here the past several years. "I don't want to spoil her day."