Martha's Vineyard prepares for Obama's summer stay

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Martha's Vineyard prepares for Obama's summer stay
WEST TISBURY , MA - AUGUST 16: First lady Michelle Obama (L) rides a bike during a vacation on Martha's Vineyard August 16, 2013in West Tisbury, Massachusetts. Obama and his family are on a weeklong vacation. (Photo by Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images)
Fireworks go off over Oak Bluff Harbor in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, August 16, 2013. US President Barack Obama and his family watched the fireworks from White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett's rental home during the Obama family vacation to Martha's Vineyard. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
EDGARTOWN, MA - AUGUST 18: (AFP OUT) The motorcade of President Barack Obama travels along Edgartown West Tisbury Road August 18, 2013 in Edgartown, Massachusetts. The Obama's are spending their last day in the island of Martha's Vineyard before returning to DC. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama bike rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, August 16, 2013, during the Obama family vacation to Martha's Vineyard. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secret Service stand watch in the brush as the President plays golf at Mink Meadows Golf Course on August 15, 2013, in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, during his Martha's Vineyard vacation. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WEST TISBURY , MA - AUGUST 16: Sasha Obama (C) and first lady Michelle Obama (R) ride bikes during a vacation on Martha's Vineyard August 16, 2013in West Tisbury, Massachusetts. Obama and his family are on a weeklong vacation. (Photo by Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images)
FILE - This Aug. 12, 2013, file photo shows President Barack Obama as he steps onto a tee while golfing at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, during his vacation. Obama is doing something unusual with his summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard: He’ll come back to Washington midway through the getaway to attend White House meetings. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
File-This Aug. 12, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama, left, chatting with former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, right, while golfing at Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard. In an excerpt from "In Play with Jimmy Roberts" that airs Tuesday Sept. 24, 2013 on Golf Channel, Bush says he understands the pressures of the White House and that playing golf is a good outlet. "You know, I see our president criticized for playing golf. I don't, I think he ought to play golf," Bush says in the interview. "Because I know what it's like to be in the bubble. And I know the pressures of the job. And to be able to get outside and play golf with some of your pals is important for the president. It does give you an outlet." (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
CORRECTS FIRST NAME TO GLENN-President Barack Obama, right, waves to a crowd of onlookers while driving a golf cart with businessman Glenn Hutchins, behind, as they golf at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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By Philip Marcelo
OAK BLUFFS, Mass. (AP) -- President Barack Obama and his family are heading to the wealthy island resort of Martha's Vineyard for vacation starting Saturday, a near-annual ritual that islanders say is a boon to local businesses even if it comes with added hassles for vacationers during what's typically the busiest tourist month of the year.

At Big Al's, a sports memorabilia store in Oak Bluffs, owner Alex McClusky prominently displays "I vacationed with Obama" T-shirts he's sold since the family's first visit in 2008.

"The visits have been great for business," he said. "He's brought more people down because people want to see him."

Island businesses capitalize on that.

Mad Martha's ice cream shop will roll out an Obama-themed flavor in its three locations, as it has in previous years, said owner Patti Roberts. "Barack My World" features coffee ice cream with caramel swirl and macadamia nuts.

At Nancy's, a popular Oak Bluffs restaurant serving fried clams, lobster rolls and other New England summer staples, owner Joseph Moujabber said he hopes the Obamas' visit boosts a season that's been slower than he would have liked.

"It's nice to have him. Every time he comes to the island, he comes here," Moujabber said during a lull in an otherwise busy lunchtime this week.

Regular summer residents, many of whom acknowledged they were Obama supporters, said they've come to accept the hassles.

"I don't begrudge them the 10 minutes that I have to wait if they are coming through an intersection or if I can't get a reservation at a restaurant," said Lawrence Aber, a New York University professor who has vacationed on the island nearly every year since he and his wife honeymooned here nearly 40 years ago.

Residents and businesses on the island in the heavily Democratic state brush aside criticism Obama has faced for taking a prolonged vacation while the nation faces a number of intractable challenges.

"There's always going to be a crisis," Roberts said this week as she opened up the Mad Martha's on Vineyard Haven's main street. "It's not like he's turning off everything. We're not a political forum here. We're here to sell ice cream and make people smile. That's what vacation should be."

Some short-term vacationers, though, were less than enthused about the prospect of spending their limited time on the island navigating detours or sitting in traffic.

On Oak Bluffs' rolling town green overlooking Nantucket Sound, Cara Pearson said she planned her visit in hopes of missing the president altogether. She leaves the day after the Obamas arrive.

"I imagine it would be a little chaotic here," said Pearson, who works in Washington and said she's well-acquainted with the presidential motorcade. "It's just an island. Everything would be gridlocked."

In Chilmark, on the western part of the island where the Obamas have stayed in and around nearly every summer, residents are breathing a sigh of relief that the president picked a less conspicuous vacation spot than before.

This year, the Obamas are renting a seven-bedroom, 8,100-square-foot house along the island's Vineyard Sound side, far off the main roads.

Said Chilmark Town Selectman Warren Doty, "They'll just be another quiet summer visitor."

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