I went to the White House for a "Tour Coordinator Summit" on Friday. I know, I know...it sounds funny...and I almost didn't go because it was scheduled to last for 2 hours and I needed to do work at my desk. But I thought, "How often do I get to go to a meeting at the White House?" So I went. I was fully expecting to be in a stuffy conference room somewhere, but we were ushered into the East Room and given folders with the meeting agenda and (of course) a photograph of President Obama. My mood changed when I was seated about fifteen inches from Eliphalet Frazer Andrews' 1878 portrait of Martha Washington. I was charmed.
We discussed tour procedures, heard from the Secret Service about the importance of background checks, and discussed ways to better the system. I learned that 5.5 million people requested to visit the White House in 2009. In December of 2009, between December 1st and the 21st, 100,000 people visited the White House. And everyone who steps foot inside is given a background check by a person--not a computer. Whew.
As we wrapped up, rumors began to circulate about the chance to see Bo, the Obama's Portuguese Water Dog (see my White House Christmas entry for a photo). Instead of the seeing the first dog, we were told that if we had time to stay we were invited to step onto the South Lawn and greet the President as he stepped of of Marine 1.
There are always three helicopters that fly with Marine 1. Two are decoys.
Until one lands, you never know which one the President is in.
Looks like President Obama is in this one!
There were guards stationed along the rope line.
The President saluted the Marine, gave a quick wave to the crowd,
and headed into the Oval Office.