President saluted, skewered | ParkRecord.com

President saluted, skewered

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

President Bush arrived in Park City on Wednesday and left on Thursday, spending less than a day in the city but creating a frenzied scene – of cheering fans, demonstrators, traffic backups and noisy helicopters – stretching from the S.R. 248 entryway to the upper reaches of Deer Valley.

The fund-raising trip to Park City caused a stir even in a community that twice hosted former President Bill Clinton, draws big-name celebrities during the Sundance Film Festival each year and had a key role during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Crowds appearing to number in the thousands lined parts of the presidential motorcade route. Many cheered as the motorcade passed, but others held signs berating Bush, and some of his critics rallied in a City Park demonstration Wednesday night.

The motorcade, made up of the president’s limousine, vehicles for his entourage, police motorcycles and emergency vehicles, shuttled Bush between his landing site and his stops in Deer Valley and Solamere.

Bush did not make a public appearance during the trip, and he did not talk to reporters assigned to his motorcade. He briefly spoke to some of the people who assisted with the trip.

"He said he was real pleased with the visit," said Police Chief Lloyd Evans, who met Bush quickly in the Stein Eriksen Lodge lobby, the hotel where the president stayed.

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Evans said the Secret Service invited him to meet Bush before the Thursday motorcade from Deer Valley, and Bush "seemed to be in a hurry." Evans met Clinton on the former president’s two ski vacations to Park City during his second term as well.

The president’s helicopter, Marine One, and three others with similar markings that travel with Bush landed under clear midafternoon skies Wednesday on a field outside Treasure Mountain International School off Kearns Boulevard. The road was shut to traffic briefly, causing traffic to back up toward U.S. 40.

Bush stepped out of his helicopter, waved and got into his limousine. The motorcade quickly drove west on Kearns Boulevard, turned south onto Bonanza Drive and then onto Deer Valley Drive. Police officers blocked intersections along the route, and mailboxes, vehicles and other objects close to the road were checked by security planners and marked with blue-colored tape. Sharpshooters were stationed in the back of at least one of the motorcade’s vehicles, with the hatch open to give them a clear view.

The motorcade climbed Marsac Avenue and the Mine Road into Silver Lake Village and to the lodge. Just before 6:30 p.m., the motorcade left Stein Eriksen Lodge, traveled down the Mine Road to the Old Town roundabout and turned onto Deer Valley Drive in lower Deer Valley on the route to former presidential hopeful and 2002 Winter Olympic chief Mitt Romney’s Solamere house for the fund-raiser. The motorcade retraced the route back to the lodge.

The crowds gathered in numerous places in Old Town, lower Deer Valley and Prospector. Many cheered on the motorcade, but some held vulgar signs condemning Bush or flashed obscene gestures as the vehicles passed. Mayor Dana Williams Thursday night commented the demonstrators were offering their "interpretations of democracy." Barack Obama supporters situated themselves along the route.

"Everything went off without a hitch," said Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, who drove in the motorcade.

Phil Kirk, a Police Department captain, said a suspicious package was found off Deer Valley Drive in lower Deer Valley. Investigators said it was a poker-chip case, and it was discovered well before the motorcade.

Far fewer people were along the motorcade route early Thursday morning as the motorcade returned to the landing zone and Bush left, with the four helicopters arcing away from the field outside Treasure Mountain.

Pricey protection

Police Chief Lloyd Evans said Thursday night the Police Department probably spent between $10,000 and $20,000 protecting the president on the overnight trip.

He said he will tabulate the cost of the trip to the Police Department by midweek, and overtime pay will push up the cost. He said police officers logged overtime shifts for traffic control and motorcade security.

The federal government does not refund the Police Department for the costs, meaning City Hall will pay the tab from its regular, taxpayer-funded budget.

Other police agencies, including the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, also amassed extra expenses during the visit.

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