US town takes expected Sarkozy visit in stride

3rd August 2007, Comments 0 comments

WOLFEBORO, New Hampshire, Aug 3, 2007 (AFP) - Residents of this leafy lakeside town are readying a laid-back welcome for France's hard-charging new president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was expected here for a summer holiday.

WOLFEBORO, New Hampshire, Aug 3, 2007 (AFP) - Residents of this leafy lakeside town are readying a laid-back welcome for France's hard-charging new president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was expected here for a summer holiday.

Officials from the White House to the town hall refused to publicly confirm reports that Sarkozy had chosen the northeastern resort community for his first "vacances d'été" since becoming president in May.

But the town's web site ran "Welcome Nicolas Sarkozy!!" on its home page together with a photo, some local restaurant tips, and an invitation to try his legs at something called "wakeboarding" on picturesque Lake Winnipesaukee.

Word of Sarkozy's arrival in Wolfeboro began circulating after the Boston Globe newspaper reported in its Thursday edition that he was headed this way for a two-week stay at a ritzy lakeside rental.

Sarkozy, 52, has developed a reputation as a frenetic, take-charge world statesman since moving into Paris' Elysee Palace. But the people of Wolfeboro looked ready to treat him like just any other summer tourist.

On the campus of Brewster Academy, a tony private high school, the big news was not the imminent appearance of the flamboyant Frenchman but this weekend's town fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the local hospital.

"We would be honored if he came," said Carol MacCabe, a retiree who is helping to organize the fair. "I am impressed that he thinks that much of our area. I hope people just leave him alone."

Her husband Russ MacCabe was also curious about the French president, whom he had heard was supposed to be "very pro-American."

"I'm not sure what that means but it was on the nightly news," MacCabe said.

Rumors spread Sarkozy might be joined at some point by President George W. Bush, whose family has a summer compound a couple of hours away by car in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he hosted Russia's Vladimir Putin last month.

"Is this going to be a no-fly zone?" quipped Katrina Lindland, a resident of nearby Alton who was in Wolfeboro to lend a hand to the fair preparations.

"If he (Sarkozy) has got a covert meeting going on, nobody will pay attention because of the fair," Lindland said.

But there was no sign of any heightened security activity other than a large marine patrol boat anchored in a cove off a spiffy lakeside home. Nobody would say what it was doing there.

The US Secret Service were little in evidence other than a telephone number for local agents tacked on the wall of the Wolfeboro police station.

In Washington, Secret Service spokeswoman Kim Bruce acknowledged Sarkozy was coming to the United States but would not say where, why or for how long.

All Bruce would say was that "by law he is entitled to Secret Service protection while on US soil."  

Wolfeboro, with a year-round population of 6,000-10,000 that triples during the tourist season, bills itself as the oldest summer resort in America.

Indeed it has all the trappings of pristine Americana: churches with white spires, a bustling Main Street, a town park with a gazebo and mail service by boat.

The Boston Globe said the buzz around Wolfeboro was that Sarkozy had rented a 1,200 square meter (13,200 square feet) house on Lake Winnipesaukee belonging to Mike Appe, a former official of Microsoft.

AFP

Subject: French news

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