Let the games begin!
Preparations for Obama’s 60th birthday party have begun as DailyMail.com was there to witness a cavalcade of catering trucks rolling into the former president’s vast Martha’s Vineyard estate on Tuesday.
These exclusive images and video give the first glimpse of preparations for what will now be a scaled back version of the party that had once been set for 500 guests but will now be a smaller but no less glitzy affair for family and friends.
The island towns of Edgartown, Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs – all places where the Obamas have been spotted during their stays on Martha’s Vineyard – are already abuzz with anticipation of the arrival of guests.
The original party invites included Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and George Clooney but it is not clear who, if any, of those have made the final cut.
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Barack Obama scaled back his 500-person 60th birthday party this upcoming weekend to a low key celebration with close friends and family. The former president poses with (from left) wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia on Thanksgiving Day on November 27, 2019
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos offer a first glimpse of party preparations for Obama’s 60th birthday celebration at his Martha’s Vineyard estate
A cavalcade of catering trucks were seen rolling into the former president’s vast Martha’s Vineyard estate Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s party
The party will be held outside the Obamas’ 7,000-square-foot home in Edgarton he and former first lady Michelle bought in 2019 for nearly $12 million (pictured)
The streamlined guest list will be hosted to an event under the canopy of local firm Big Sky Tents and Party Rentals.
Three large Big Sky trucks emerged from the long private sandy road leading to the Obamas’ $12million property late yesterday afternoon.
The local company run by a husband and wife team boasts of offering ‘style and elegance’ to any outdoor event and has been featured in the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings.
They provide Sperry Tents – open sided tents made out of sailcloth with nautical touches in keeping with the New England locale including wooden support poles to waving pennant flags.
The company which was born out of owners Jim and Ann-Marie Eddy’s own wedding planning more than two decades ago offers personalized consultations and a ‘unique inventory’ of tables, chairs, china, crystal, linen and silver in their Edgartown showroom.
Shortly after their trucks emerged a catering truck bearing Nancy’s Restaurant logo turned in.
Nancy’s in Oak Bluffs is a firm favorite for the Obamas who have been spotted getting take-out from the family eatery that provides seafood classics and frozen cocktails and whose menu is heavily influence by Middle Eastern cuisine.
It seems the former president and his guests will be treated to delicious cuisine from his favorite seafood restaurant after a catering truck bearing Nancy’s Restaurant logo was seen pulling up to the home Tuesday
Guests will be hosted under a canopy provided by Big Sky Tents and Party Rentals. Three large Big Sky trucks were seen emerging from the long private road leading to the Obamas’ $12million property
A Secret Service motorcade was also on site Tuesday as party preparations were underway
Guests at Obama’s 60th can expect to enjoy all the fresh shellfish and seafood the Vineyard can offer in a menu that may well include Nancy’s famous gyro plates, grape leaves and falafels.
Neighbors at Obama’s property overlooking Great Pond are protective of the celebrity family in their midst and some are clearly put on edge by the prospect of a further celebrity influx.
On Tuesday, two women out walking their dog harangued ‘gawkers’ and swiftly reported any unknown vehicles to local police who are providing enhanced security along with the former first family’s own Secret Service detail.
According to one who did not give her name: ‘It’s very difficult for us [residents] right now. There’s heightened security and people driving through who don’t belong on this road, gawkers.’
Obama, who turned 60 on Wednesday, was forced to reduce the 500-guest party for his milestone birthday to a small family gathering due to the recent surge in cases of the Delta variant and breakthrough cases among vaccinated people.
A spokesperson for the President and Mrs Obama issued a statement yesterday which read: ‘Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.
‘President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.’
The White House had previously defended the former president’s plan with Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodging questions on the matter and saying: ‘I would note first that former President Obama has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated.’
Security was also heightened Wednesday as DailyMail.com learned there is now a no-fly zone for drones centered over the Obama property
A new red area was added Wednesday covering the area over the home. Any drone flying in a red zone – the highest level of restriction – can be commandeered and brought down over land or sea
Local police are also providing enhanced security along with the former first family’s own Secret Service detail
Obama’s Secret Service detail consisted of a five-vehicle motorcade which was seen driving away from the area around prime time for a dinner reservation but is unclear where they went
A Secret Service agent wearing an earpiece is seen talking into his mic as he stands outside the Obamas’ property
While the party list may have shrunk, protection of Obama’s controversial bash was heightened Wednesday as DailyMail.com has learned that the area of the sky in which drones must not fly has been extended.
Images obtained by DailyMail.com show the wide blue DJI Geo Zone as it was two days ago.
Remote operated drones are not permitted to fly without authorization in the highlighted area.
Today a new, red area was added, extending the no-fly zone and centered over the Obama property.
Drones that stray into a blue zone will be prompted and their flight limited by default. Any drone flying in a red zone – the highest level of restriction – can be commandeered and brought down over land or sea.
The party, according to multiple reports, was supposed to take place outdoors on the Obamas’ $12 million 30-acre Martha’s Vineyard waterfront mansion.
But as more plans became public this week, the former president came under fire for the tone deaf event as many areas of the country returned to pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates indoors.
There was also a ‘coronavirus coordinator’, who was making sure the event was compliant with the most recent CDC guidance.
Guests were required to take coronavirus tests and submit their results to the medical ‘coronavirus coordinator’ to gain entry to the Obama compound.
Former first lady Michelle brought some levity to the controversy Wednesday by posting a sweet tribute to the ‘wonderful father and husband’ on his big day.
The 57-year-old took to social media to share a message for her husband, while also posting a never-before-seen photo of the couple posing with their daughters, Malia and Sasha.
‘Of all of your accomplishments, I know that being a present, loving father to our girls tops them all,’ she wrote.
‘Thank you for never letting the weight of the world get in the way of being a wonderful husband and father. Happy 60th birthday, @BarackObama!’
Former First Lady Michelle Obama wished her husband a happy 60th birthday Wednesday in a sweet social media post
The Obamas’ spent some of their time in COVID quarantine at the Martha’s Vineyard property
The former president and former first lady Michelle visited the island community in 2014
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the president’s birthday party amid public scrutiny on Monday, noting that the event was planned to be held outdoors.
‘What CDC has provided guidance on is for indoor settings in high or substantial high zones of COVID cases. This event according to all the public reporting is outdoors and in a moderate zone,’ she explained to Fox News reporter Peter Doocey at the White House briefing on Monday.
Doocey pushed, claiming the event could lead to a superspreader considering the rise in Delta variant cases and breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals.
‘The guidance is about what steps people can take when they are in public settings, indoor settings specifically was the new guidance, to keep themselves and others safe,’ Psaki reiterated.
‘In terms of what protocols they are taking, I would refer you to them, and I’m sure they can give you more detail.’
The Fox News reporter asked if this would send the wrong message to Americans that they should now hold their own massive parties since Obama is doing so.
‘We certainly advise everyone to follow public health guidelines, which, I know, the former president – who is a huge advocate of getting vaccinated, of following the guidance of public health experts – would certainly advocate for himself as well,’ she concluded.
Psaki, who previously worked for Obama before joining Biden’s administration, said she would refer people ‘to the team that’s working for my former boss to give you more specifics of what protocols are in place.’
The house includes seven bedrooms and has two separate wings. It sits on 30-acres and provides some great ocean views
There is also an outdoor table to enjoy some meals in the summer
Despite the massive guest list, Obama’s former vice president will not be attending the birthday bash.
A White House official told The Hill, according to a Monday report, that the president is ‘unable to attend this weekend.’
‘He looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over 60 club,’ the official said.
The massive party was amended to an intimate celebration as COVID cases continue to surge nationwide, with the Delta variant accounting for more than 80 per cent of all new infections.
A recent CDC study threatens to undermine the safety of the COVID protocols in place, however.
Three quarters of the coronavirus infections in a recent Massachusetts outbreak on Cape Cod were found to have been in people who are already fully vaccinated, the agency revealed at the end of July.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday on CNN that big parties should be avoided.
‘If you’re talking about a small party like I might have at my house for six or eight people who are all fully vaccinated, I do not believe, at this point, we need to put masks on to be next to each other,’ he said.
‘But if there were 100 people, and, of course, how are you really going to be sure about people’s vaccination status?’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended on Monday Obama’s decision to hold a potential super spreader birthday party in the midst of a massive COVID-19 Delta variant surge
There will also be a ‘COVID coordinator’ to ensure all proper protocols are being followed, but it remains unclear what proof of a negative COVID test or a vaccine will be required, and whether guests will be required to wear masks.
The party comes just one month after nearby Provincetown saw a surge in coronavirus cases from the July 4 holiday.
The New York Times reports that the community, at the tip of Cape Cod, was crowded with over 60,000 people, many of whom were maskless, during the holiday.
Officials did not worry about it, however, as the community had one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.
But since then, scientists have traced 965 cases to the gatherings, 238 of them involving Provincetown residents.
Fortunately, only seven people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported.
As a result of the outbreak, scientists discovered that vaccinated people who got breakthrough COVID cases had the same viral load as those who did not get the vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control once again recommended even those who are vaccinated continue wearing their masks indoors in areas with ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ spread.
Martha’s Vineyard does not qualify as an area of ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ risk, but Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has recommended that even vaccinated people wear face masks.
‘If you have a serious health condition or risk of developing a severe illness from COVID, you should take extreme precautions,’ the governor announced last week.
‘If you have a close friend or family members who have a serious risk of developing a severe disease or illness from COVID, you should take extra precautions.’
Obama’s smaller-than-expected gathering this weekend is still expected to take place at the $11.57 million seven-bedroom home he and Michelle bought in 2019, which includes an in-ground pool and plenty of space to relax on warm summer days.
In lieu of gifts, Axios reports, guests are being asked to ‘consider giving to programs that work to support boys and young men of color, and their families here at home in the United States, empower adolescent girls around the world and equip the next generation of emerging community leaders.’