Obamas prepare for last island vacation as first family

BOSTON (AP) " President Barack Obama and his family are beginning their seventh and final vacation on Martha's Vineyard as first family.

The Obamas officially arrive Saturday to start their two-week vacation, and islanders say they appreciate that the family generally keeps a low profile.

"That's what vacation should be about. It's more about him and the family and not making a show. I respect that," said Rhonda Backus, a lifelong resident and manager at Alley's General Store, a shop where the family and their staff have been known to pop in.

The Obamas have summered every August on the famous resort island off Cape Cod since the president took office in 2009, except when he was campaigning for re-election in 2012. He and first lady Michelle Obama, both Harvard Law School graduates, vacationed on the island prior to moving into the White House.

The president is typically seen golfing or riding bikes or hiking with his daughters, 18-year-old Malia and 15-year-old Sasha. The family also has been seen getting ice cream, munching on fried seafood or perusing shops in one of the island's quaint New England town centers.

Chilmark Selectman James Malkin says the only time the Obamas visit raised some local ire was in 2013, when they rented a house off a busy road and the president's security detail re-rerouted traffic. The family picked a more secluded rental the following year.

"Looking back, it really wasn't that horrible. It was an inconvenience, but it wasn't a major catastrophe," Malkin said. "The president and his entourage are less aggressive than many of our other summer visitors. They're very conscious of their impact on local people, and we appreciate that."

The Obamas are expected to return to a home they've rented in recent years in Chilmark, located on the more remote western end of the island.

The seven-bedroom, 8,100-square-foot residence features views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and a dual tennis-basketball court.

Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, says the minor inconveniences of having the first family in town " including a presidential motorcade that's been known to snarl traffic " are far overshadowed by the buzz and excitement the visits make for local businesses.

August is the island's busiest month of the year, with the roughly 17,000 year-round residents sharing space with nearly 120,000 more visitors on any given day.

"It's been our own little economic stimulus to have them vacation with us, especially during the recession years," Gardella said. "We're really honored and a little bit sad that this will be their last visit as first family."

The Obamas are expected to end their vacation Aug. 21. The White House has said no public events have so far been scheduled.

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Follow Philip Marcelo at http://twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/philip-marcelo.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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