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What a Delaware beach vacation looks like for President Biden


Joe and Jill Biden are trading 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., this week. They're doing what many families do on vacation - see a movie, take walks on the beach - but trying to blend in as president is tough. NPR's Barbara Sprunt has more.




BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: When you're the president, even a simple bike ride is a production. You're trailed by Secret Service, passerbys (ph) gather to cheer you on and the press pool that follows you in D.C. is still close by.

TEVI TROY: A vacation for a president is not really a vacation. You're not ever fully off.

SPRUNT: That's Tevi Troy, a former White House aide and a presidential historian.

TROY: You have to bring national security aides. You have to bring a communications apparatus. You obviously have to bring the football, which is the nuclear codes. So a presidential vacation is much more complicated than just loading up the minivan with peanut butter sandwiches and some suitcases.

SPRUNT: Presidential vacations can be interrupted by breaking news or legislation that needs to be signed. And even if their responsibilities don't end, presidents get criticized for the appearance of taking a break. That's true for Biden, too, who has traveled to his homes in Delaware numerous times throughout his presidency. Biden has long been a regular at Rehoboth, and beachgoers don't seem that starstruck.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: He's a regular human, just like you and I, so I don't feel any type of way (laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: If we saw him, we'd be like, oh, OK, you know, there he is.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: I wouldn't even go near him.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: I'm indifferent to it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: So, like, the first time, it's like, oh, OK, you know? Hey, that's cool. You know, it's the motorcade. And now it's kind of, like, we're over it.

SPRUNT: For some locals, like Bridget Mullins, the novelty of the president coming to town along with his motorcade and tendency to back up traffic has worn off.

BRIDGET MULLINS: And he went to the main church here, and that was exciting the first time, you know? But after that, it's a hassle.

SPRUNT: But kids - kids are a different story.

ARIAH: I love the fact that, you know, we're in the same town.

SPRUNT: That's 11-year-old Ariah, who has a big smile with remnants of an ice cream cone quickly melting on this hot day.

ARIAH: I want to go live with him. He's rich, and he could buy me an iPad. He can make sure I got the best birthdays, the best Christmases.

SPRUNT: Further down the beach are high schoolers Gabriella Hildreth and Ariana Stanton, who are surprised to hear the news.

GABRIELLA HILDRETH: Is he here? I'd...

ARIANA STANTON: I literally told her earlier. I was like, Biden comes here all the time.

SPRUNT: They quickly launch into a debate about what to do if they saw the president.

GABRIELLA: Can I have a picture (laughter)?

ARIANA: I don't know. Shake his hand, I don't know.

GABRIELLA: Yes, I would. I would want to. Then you could be like...

ARIANA: I would not.

GABRIELLA: ...I shook President Biden's hand.

ARIANA: I wouldn't say anything. I would leave him alone. I feel like he gets it all the time, though, so I would just...

GABRIELLA: You'd feel like you're overstepping your boundary...


GABRIELLA: ...Maybe. Like, just let him be.

SPRUNT: Nineteen-year-old Lily Sakellariou is also thinking about a potential interaction with Biden. She's working this summer at the ice cream store, a popular spot that has a picture of Biden on display behind the waffle-cone maker from when he visited years ago.

LILY SAKELLARIOU: He has almond joy as the flavor, and we just put that online this morning.

SPRUNT: She wonders, will the almond joy bat signal work?

SAKELLARIOU: Well, I'm sure he would be super nice. (Impersonating Joe Biden) Appreciate it, kid. Oh.

SPRUNT: So you'd be nervous?

SAKELLARIOU: Yeah, but I'm up for it. I would want him to, I don't know, say it's the best ice cream cone he's ever had - compliment my scooping, maybe.

SPRUNT: Daniel Fry, who's visiting Rehoboth for a family reunion, says he'd also be excited to see Biden regardless of politics.

DANIEL FRY: I am probably as pro-Republican and pro-Trump as can be. I am not a fan of Joe Biden, but he's still our American president. And, you know, it's always been an honor and privilege to be in the presence of the president. So I think it's kind of a cool thing.

SPRUNT: Fry just missed seeing Biden in the park. But he plans to come back tomorrow in the hopes of catching a glimpse. Barbara Sprunt, NPR News, Rehoboth Beach.

(SOUNDBITE OF NICK SHOULDERS' "SURF DE MARDI GRAS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.