President Barack Obama, Michelle, kids attend wedding in Kenwood
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters June 16, 2012 5:42PM
From left, Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Michelle's mother Marian Robinson, and President Barack Obama, right, walk to Laura Jarrett's wedding, Saturday, June 16, 2012, in Chicago. Laura Jarrett is the daughter of Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Updated: July 18, 2012 6:47AM
Elegantly-dressed visitors walked down the closed-off streets of Kenwood and Hyde Park — and then were wanded by U.S. Secret Service agents as they headed to a wedding.
Four SUVs raced by — leading neighbors to wonder whether President Barack Obama was inside. No, with only four SUVs, that’s just Attorney General Eric Holder.
Uninvited guests stood on tippy toes and craned their necks to get a view.
“We just want to be a part of history,” said Michael Buchanan, who drove in with his family to watch from as close as they could get — a security perimeter a block away.
Even for the president’s home neighborhood, Saturday’s wedding of Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett’s daughter was quite an event — especially since the entire first family was in attendance, during their first trip home together in two years.
For most of the day, the first family kept a low profile until 6 p.m., when they walked the one block from their home to the wedding, which was held amidst flowers under a giant white tent set up in the backyard of Valerie Jarrett’s mother.
Neighbors who did not score an invitation strained to see the dresses First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters wore. Mrs. Obama sported a dark, but shimmering sleeveless top that appeared to be gray, along with an off-white skirt. Malia, 13, wore a yellow dress and Sasha, 11, wore a green dress. Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, sported and black and white dress and the president himself an understated beige suit.
Some neighbors rolled their eyes at the security precautions, which including the closure of Hyde Park Boulevard as at least 100 Chicago Police and secret service officers patrolled the area.
Others left the area even before the first family came out for a stroll.
“It’s a necessary evil,” said Kenwood resident Mark Handy, of the street closures and parking restrictions. “My wife’s car got towed this morning. They put up the signs in the middle of the night that say you have to have your car moved by 7 a.m. That could be handled better. But things could be a lot worse. I’m not complaining.”
“Not everyone can live in Kennebunkport,” added Handy’s brother, Ben, referring to the Maine retreat where many politicians and celebrities keep vacation homes. “Barack has neighbors. He lives in a community.”
Valerie Jarrett is one of Barack and Michelle Obama’s closest friends. She was Michelle Obama’s boss in Mayor Daley’s City Hall. Her daughter Laura, an attorney at Mayer Brown, married Tony Balkissoon, an attorney at Sidley & Austin. The two met at Harvard Law School.
Former U.N. ambassador Vernon Jordan, whose wife is a cousin of the Jarretts, and Chicago financier and Obama pal John Rogers arrived earlier Saturday at the wedding.
Spectators tried to get a good view. Buchanan and 11-year-old daughter Mikayla tried to catch a glimpse of the Obama family from their perch behind a security perimeter about a block away.
The family “just wants to see the movers and shakers,” said Buchanan. “Is that Barack? I think I see him,” said Mikayla.
“We were going to go to Washington this year, but we couldn’t make it. So here Washington has come to us,” said Buchanan who drove in from Matteson.
In addition to throngs of police on the ground, late Saturday morning, an F-15 fighter jet escorted a small, single-engine aircraft out of restricted airspace over the Chicago area. The North American Aerospace Defense Command wouldn’t comment on the reason for the temporary flight restriction, but airspace is routinely restricted around events involving the president.
The president returned home from the wedding around midnight. After spending Sunday in Chicago, Obama will fly from O’Hare to Los Cabos, Mexico, for a meeting of the G-20 countries.