Friday, June 27, 2014

A President Visits

At Lake Harriet, Minneapolis (Photos: KARE 11 News)
In about 20 minutes, President Obama will give a speech only 3-4 blocks from where I'm sitting and writing this post.  He's in the Twin Cities.  Yesterday, he led a Town Hall Meeting at Minnehaha Park.  Today, he's giving a speech at the bandshell on the north side of Lake Harriet, one of the chain of lakes that snakes through Minneapolis.  Minnehaha Creek flows between them.

A little over an hour ago, my neighborhood saw an invasion of security helicopters, very loud, buzzing low over us, setting off car alarms on my street.  They flew overhead for about an hour.  Now it's eerily quiet.  No air traffic overhead even though we are under a busy landing vector.  No traffic on the street.  The neighborhood has been locked down for the duration of the President's visit.

A friend posted a phone video on Facebook that showed The Steeles singing on the bandshell stage, entertaining the people who are there and waiting.  They were bused in from a spot on the edge of downtown.  The Secret Service did not want people walking to the bandshell, and you can bet that they have that area blocked off for pedestrians. There's no parking on the streets around this part of Lake Harriet, and no parking in the parking lot by the bandshell.  Local TV stations are covering the action but will not broadcast the President's speech live.  I just turned on the TV to watch it and discovered that he had already finished.
President Obama at Lake Harriet (Photo: KARE 11 News)

When I first heard that the President would be at Lake Harriet, I wondered why.  Sure, it's picturesque.  Of the Minneapolis lakes, it's well known as a family lake.  The dense neighborhoods around it are full of families, people in numerous apartment buildings working to make it in their chosen business.  There are hundreds of dogs.  On weekends and evenings, the paths around the lake are crowded with walkers, joggers, inline skaters, bikers, and lots of dogs of all breeds and sizes. 

Lake Harriet in Minneapolis (Photo: Richard Carr)

The wildlife at the lake includes Mallard ducks, Canada geese, loons, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, a coyote or two, a fox, rabbits, deer, and probably snakes but I've never seen them.  There's a wildlife sanctuary on the north side.  Fishermen line the shore.  The air fills with annoying gnats in the early evening, mosquitoes, flies, bees, wasps, dragonflies, and mayflies.  Trees line the shore and there are several beaches.  The circumference is almost 3 miles.  It's a very popular lake with joggers and runners training for marathons.  The Twin Cities Marathon route winds around the north and east side to where the Minnehaha Creek flows out of it.

The security measures taken, beginning at midnight last night, reminded me a little of the time Hollywood came to the neighborhood to film a scene in Jingle All the Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The scene involved a pay phone in a booth, and they'd had problems finding one.  We had one located between a family-run hardware store and a children's store.  I remember that I had to walk two blocks north to catch my city bus to downtown because the movie crew had blocked the streets around the area they were filming.  They were here for two days.  Schwarzenegger visited each small business located in the area and bought something in each one, endearing him to the owners forever.

Our famous visitor this morning has finished his speech, and according to the TV reporter, was just hanging around for pictures and talking with some of the people.  Slowly, the neighborhood will relax and activity will return.  I can already hear traffic on the street outdoors.  Why didn't I wait in line this past Wednesday -- a line that I heard had formed in the wee hours of the morning -- to get a ticket to see and hear the President in person?  It probably was one of the safest places on the planet this morning.  But I'm not big on crowds, politicians, and speeches.

And I'm happy that the neighborhood is now returning to normal.....    

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