Preparation begins for President Obama's historic Yosemite visit

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Advance teams from the White House are scouting the area, getting ready for the Presidents arrival. (KFSN)

President Obama's motorcade arrived at Castle Airport in Atwater Thursday afternoon and is on its way to Yosemite ahead of Mr. Obama's historic visit.

Advance teams from the White House are scouting the area, getting ready for the Presidents arrival.

The President is expected to arrive Friday evening. His first and possibly only public media event will be held here on Saturday morning.

The President is using the stop at Yosemite and at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, as both a family vacation and a chance to remind Americans of how they can enjoy the great outdoors in our National Parks.

This summer Marks the hundredth anniversary of the park system, something Allie, Ava, and Sawyer Stevens really enjoyed. The Stevens family is on a tour of all of the nations National Parks this summer. Yosemite is the sixth, and so far their favorite.

"We love it. The kids are collecting their junior ranger badges, so, just relaxing. For a family to get back to nature visit all the parks," said Trish Stevens, Wisconsin.

"Your goal is to hit all of them," asked our reporter.

"That's our goal," Trish responded.

Most visitors are just seeing Yosemite. Visitation is up 20-percent over last year, and it's getting crowded. Traffic is often tied up even without a Presidential visit.

"It's still Yosemite, it's gorgeous. You just see it at a slower pace I guess,' said Anthony Souza, Sacramento .

The Park Service is alerting weekend visitors things will be more congested with the Presidential visit. Traffic will be backed up, and some areas in the Valley will be closed for awhile. Getting a camping spot is likely impossible, though some visitors from San Diego managed.

"We got here at four, and we fell asleep on the ground for about three hours to get one of the walk on campsites-- pumped," said Cayden Riebe, San Diego.

This will be a historic visit. The last President to come to Yosemite was John F. Kennedy.

President Obama and the First Family will be attempting to have a family vacation, away from the crowds-- if possible.

He is scheduled to make a speech here with the waterfall as a backdrop on Saturday. So roads and parking will be blocked off.

Trish and her family will just miss the President but take home lovely memories.

"It's beautiful. This has been a beautiful relaxing week, and we have had a wonderful time, so, very thankful for it."

"So are you happy to be getting out before the President gets here," asked our reporter"

"Yes," answered Trish.

In At water, the Secret Service was out with the military at Castle Airport testing out the runway, ahead of time. It's the first time in decades, a president has landed here, but some still remember the last time.

If the runway could talk it would share memories of past presidents. The same, dusty, old memories Joe Pruzzo hangs on to.

"It's very steeped in history here," said Pruzzo.

He runs the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, just outside the airport where John F Kennedy once landed.

"August 24th, 1962. A couple months before I was even born," said one curator.

He was the first president to step foot on the runway and was followed by Jimmy Carter in 1980. Both visits, Pruzzo said, drew crowds and he's expecting to see the same thing on Friday. When President Obama and his family touchdown in Air Force One on their way to Yosemite.

"What we're seeing here, is history. We're living it today," said Pruzzo.

It's big news for a small town and the Secret Service showed up early with Marine One in tow-- Eric Fimbrez watched it land.

"Kinda like a hot rod, you hear the engine run but, kind of intense with a helicopter."

A C-130 also flew in to drop off the President's motorcade. Which is far from what Kennedy used when he visited the park. He was standing and waving to the people who adored him.

"The president probably had a bit more accessibility to people in 1962 than currently, living in a post 9/11 world and seeing some of the things we see," said Pruzzo.

Security will be different but memories will still be made. Memories, Pruzzo will add to his collection.

"Years from now, we can say look back and say another sitting president visited Castle."

And this time he'll be able to say-- I was there.

The secret service wasn't able to share many details, but we do know the First Family is scheduled to land around 7:15 p.m.

Related Topics:
societypresident barack obamaobama familyyosemite national parkmariposa countymerced countyAtwaterYosemite National Park
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