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Clinton’s visits remembered

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF
Pictures of President Bill Clinton's visits to Main Street hang on the wall at the Main Street Deli. Clinton stopped by the restaurant during each of his two trips to Park City in the late 1990s. Grayson West/Park Record
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Mike Lindbloom remembers when the last president made a ballyhooed trip to Utah.

At his restaurant, the Main Street Deli, there are three pictures hanging on the wall showing the former commander in chief on Main Street in Park City.

They were shot during the second term of the Clinton administration, when Bill Clinton visited Park City twice on family ski vacations, once in 1998 and again the next year.

During each of his visits to Park City, Clinton stopped into the deli, buying yogurt and coffee each time, Lindbloom remembers. When he came in the second time, Clinton spoke to people at each table, after an aide had already researched who was inside.

"It was a lot of fun. I got to talk to him quite a while," Lindbloom says, recalling that the two chatted about the number of people living in Park City and telecommuting to jobs elsewhere. "He was interested in that, the technology."

They also spoke about raising daughters, he says.

After the second visit, radio stations in Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Salt Lake and Kalispell, Mont., interviewed him, Lindbloom says.

Lindbloom, who was not at the restaurant the first time Clinton visited, says that the staffers at the time were surprised when the president arrived.

"The first year was totally unexpected," he says.

President George W. Bush is scheduled to speak at the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City later in the week. His visit has sparked plans for demonstrations in Salt Lake. Some Parkites have said that they plan to protest the president, opposing him on issues like the Iraqi war. The president is not scheduled to travel to Park City.

Bush has not visited Park City during his presidency but with his two visits, when he stayed in Deer Valley, Clinton made the city a wintertime destination for the first family.

Scores of Parkites remember the visits. Clinton stopped on Main Street each time, greeting throngs of stunned crowds, signing autographs and chatting with some of the people, including Brad Olch, Park City’s mayor at the time, who was getting his mail as Clinton was passing.

There were not large organized protests when Clinton visited but, in 1999, a family demonstrated at Kimball Junction, getting dozens of cars to honk as they passed.

At Dolly’s Book Store, another Clinton haunt, he and his aides memorably had to rummage through their pockets for money after he tried to buy books with an American Express card that had expired. The clerk at Dolly’s later that day said she was embarrassed that she had to tell him that the card was denied. He bought $62.66 in books, including a John Grisham title, during a 25-minute stop at the bookstore. The clerk gave him a compilation of essays about open space.

The Secret Service held back the crowds, putting up yard after yard of yellow ‘Do not cross’ tape as Clinton walked. He told the crowd that Park City was a "a great place to be. It’s a great place to ski."

In 1999, when the Olympic bribery scandal was fresh, he told the press corps that the "Salt Lake will do a great job with (the Olympics.)"

"I’m looking forward to it," he said.

Kathy Pederson, who owns Dolly’s with her husband, was in Michigan when Clinton visited the bookstore. She says that she heard about the credit-card incident on a radio station in Michigan.

"We’re listening and it said something like Dolly’s Bookstore in Park City, Utah," she says, adding, "We called and were, like, ‘What is going on back there.’"

If Bush were to stop by, Pederson says that the store would be ecstatic.

"Everybody said it was really good energy and exciting," she says about the Clinton visit.


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