Alison Shaw
President Clinton and his family arrived on Martha’s Vineyard late yesterday afternoon to begin a 10-day summer vacation on the Island, the most extended stay here of any sitting president in history. The President, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea, along with an accompanying entourage of White House staff, landed at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport to an enormous crowd of cheering, clapping, singing Island people.
 
It was a poignant and historic moment for the Vineyard.
 
The blue and white Air Force One, a smaller version of the jet the President usually travels in, touched down at the airport just before 5:25 p.m. on Thursday, a sunny day with high, hazy clouds later on. The wind blew off the runway and as the jet taxied past the main airport terminal a group of onlookers clung to the chain link fence, waving. Jet roar filled the air.
 
Security at the airport was thorough, and as the arrival of the President drew near, the Secret Service made repeated sweeps of the landing area using dogs and metal detectors.
 
The arrival of Mr. Clinton was four hours later than scheduled but the long wait did little to dampen the spirits of the crowd. There were several hundred people gathered in specially cordoned-off areas on the airport tarmac, including a VIP group of local residents and a gaggle of print, television and radio journalists. Beyond the area reserved for press and others with special security clearance, hundreds more, easily numbering into the thousands, lined the airport road all the way down to the West Tisbury Road. It was an outpouring of Island patriotism as citizens waited to see their President.
 
Just before he stepped off the plane, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, the President stood in the gangway of the plane and waved. A group of children from the Martha;s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club held a red, white and blue banner painted with stars which read Happy Birthday Mr. President. Yesterday was President Clinton’s 47th birthday, and as he climbed off the plane the children sang Happy Birthday to him. With Mr. Clinton were Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wore sunglasses and a walking suit with a blue and black print coat, and Chelsea Clinton, who wore khaki shorts and a white shirt.
 
Smiling and radiant, Mr. Clinton immediately moved into the VIP crowd on the tarmac and began to shake hands. The President scooped up four-year-old Ashley Cloutier, who was there with her grandmother Betsey Cumming, and clasped the little girl in a warm hug. “You’re beautiful. You made my day,” he said.
 
Also there to greet the President was his Vineyard friend and Washington confidant Vernon Jordan, who headed the Clinton transition team following the election. Mr. Jordan, who is a Chilmark summer resident, gave the President a tan baseball cap which said President Clinton’s Summer Vacation, ‘93, Martha’s Vineyard.
 
Close behind the President, Hillary Clinton also worked the crowd, shaking hands and smiling and warmly thanking people for coming out. After Mr. Clinton posed for pictures in front of the press pool, he and his family climbed into a beige Suburban and the presidential motorcade, which included another Suburban and a group of state police cars, moved out of the airport. All along the way people waved and held signs for the President. One said, “Come for Pie.”
 
The presidential jet left Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington at 4:20 p.m. Thursday and on board during the flight there was birthday cake and champagne. Mr. Clinton said Vice President Al Gore gave him the new Jefferson biography and that he also brought along a Robert Ludlum book to read during his vacation. 
 
The Clintons will spend their vacation in the summer house owned by Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense and former president of the World Bank. The McNamara compound is situated on the Oyster Pond, deep in the Oyster Watcha Midlands in the rural coastal limits of Edgartown.
 
The arrival of the vacationing President and his family yesterday capped a week of mounting excitement over the impending visit and a veritable invasion of White House advance staff, Secret Service and the national press corps onto the Island at the height of the summer season. The press is headquartered at the Edgartown School.
 
The White House has said repeatedly that Mr. Clinton is on vacation and there will be no published schedule. But it is known that he intends to play golf at Farm Neck and may visit the agricultural fair in West Tisbury sometime in the next two days. It is also known that the President has been invited for cocktails tonight by the family of the late George Flynn, who owns the property adjoining Oyster-Watcha. The Clintons will have dinner with Katharine Graham one night during their visit here, and plans are also underway for a social gathering at the Gay Head home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
 
Last night the Clintons celebrated the President's birthday at a dinner party at the home of Ann and Vernon Jordan overlooking Quitsa Pond. The extensive guest list included Mrs. Onassis, Mrs. Graham, Henry Grunwald and William and Rose Styron.