"This is the worst day of my life," lamented a young Maine vacationer to his father.
Perhaps a bit dramatic, but the boy clearly articulated one view of what it's like to vacation at the same destination the Presidential family has chosen - this weekend the Obamas have selected Bar Harbor, Maine - and when the first family takes a holiday, other vacationing families are sometimes inconvenienced.
This morning's youthful complaint followed the news that the sand bar, which appears at low tide and allows tourists to cross over on foot or by vehicle to Bar Island, was closed to the public. Turns out the Obamas had decided to play tennis and take a dip in the pool at the nearby Bar Harbor Club, so Secret Service had to close down the sand bar walkway because it was too close to the first family.
"I'm not going to vote for him next time, Daddy," the boy, who could not have been older than six, continued, referring to the president. "Ok, you don't have to vote for him next time," responded the father who was poised with his camera, ready to capture an image of the Obamas.
But not all tourists react with doom and gloom. A Canadian family was surprised to hear they had chosen the exact same weekend to visit Bar Harbor as the Obamas. And while they were disappointed when the Secret Service turned them away from venturing onto the sand bar, because their three and a half year old wanted to collect seashells, they said they understood. They were surprised again when the same agent, then ran after them and offered their little girl a Secret Service pin in lieu of a shell. "That was really nice," said the girl's father.
The first family seems to be enjoying the picturesque coastal New England town. They've spent two days boating, sight-seeing and partaking in the local delicacies lobster and ice cream. One local restaurateur told Fox News the president enjoyed a one-and-a-quarter pound lobster during Friday's dinner. They've also been adhering to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign with biking and hiking. Mrs. Obama's press secretary Katie McCormick-Lelyveld says the first family has been enjoying their time together. "About an hour walk with stops at the water to skip rocks and play with the dog. A few other families were hiking, many with their dogs, and the family stopped to say hi along the way."
Such varying experiences and opinions are not uncommon at presidential vacation destinations. But while some are discouraged by the limitations posed by road blocks, traffic jams, and security lock downs, many vacationers are excited by their proximity to the president, while locals are buoyed by the economic impact.
A waiter at the hotel restaurant where White House press are staying, said he's hopeful the first family's visit will put Bar Harbor on the national map for vacation destinations. According to the Maine Revenue Services, 2009 was the worst tourism season on record for the state who's tourism season brings in $10 billion annually. But locals note with relief that the 2010 summer season is already better. And while the tourists aren't coming in the numbers they did in 2008, local workers hope the president's visit will change that. "We're happy he's here," the waiter said, "anything that brings in money."
And where the president goes, the money does follow. With all the car rentals, hotel rooms, food and sometimes souvenirs the press corps and support staff for the president require, the local economy does benefit. The only question is, will the Obama family return to Bar Harbor in the future, and consequently frustrate the excite fellow vacationers and locals? For what it's worth, the press is hoping so.