(UPDATED) WESTPORT, Conn. – More than a dozen spectators lined the shoulder of Sherwood Island Connector in Westport on Monday night and waited anxiously to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama's motorcade.
At about 7:30 p.m., their patience paid off as the motorcade made its way down the connector before turning right on Nyala Farms Road.
"It was nice to see," Bridgeport resident Jean-Claude Jean said. "I didn't see the president, but it was exciting to see all the cars.
Obama first arrived in Westport at about 5:15 p.m., after the presidential helicopters landed at Sherwood Island State Park. Minutes later, his vehicle was escorted onto Interstate 95 south headed to Stamford, where he was attending a fundraiser at the Marriott Hotel & Spa.
Knowing Obama would be back in Westport after the Stamford event to attend a $35,800 per guest dinner party at movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s home on Beachside Avenue, Jean and others gathered along the side of Sherwood Island Connector before 7 p.m. to see the “most powerful man in the world” drive by.
Jean, president of First Class Driving Service, said he’s no stranger to presidential encounters. In the 1990s, when former President Bill Clinton visited Westport, Jean said he saw that motorcade. A few years later, he said he met former President George W. Bush at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich, where the then-president signed Jean’s business card and shook his hand.
“It’s something I will always remember,” Jean said. “To me, it doesn’t matter if they are Republican or Democrat. That’s my president — our president.”
Hours before Obama arrived, a Secret Service agent was stationed outside Weinstein’s home. The agent, out of the Brooklyn, N.Y., field office, checked the identification of every person working the event, from the valets to the caterers driving in to drop off food.
A Connecticut State Police helicopter also looped above the area around Weinstein’s home several times during the afternoon.
Mike Pierre, one of the at least 10 valets working the party, said he was thrilled when he found out he was assigned to work a presidential event.
“This is definitely the coolest valet job I’ve worked so far,” he said. “I’m excited to see the motorcade — I wonder if it looks like it does in the movies.”
Obama’s visit to Westport lasted less than two hours. By 9:15 p.m., Obama had reportedly left the party and Westport.