Update: President Obama touched down in Prospect Park, just as we predicted, in one of a pair of armored helicopters — and we have the photos.
The nation’s commander-in-chief made a noisy-but-soft landing in the Long Meadow, near the north end of Brooklyn’s backyard, where he met up with his motorcade and drove off through legions of waving onlookers. Obama stopped off at a Crown Heights high school to say a few words, then dropped by Brooklyn favorite Junior’s Restaurant with Democratic mayoral nominee Bill DeBlasio to grab some cheesecake. He bid the borough a final adieu by buzzing past this paper’s office in his Marine One chopper on his way to a Manhattan fund-raiser.
Call it O-day.
President Obama’s visit to Brooklyn will completely close Prospect Park for six hours today and this paper suspects that the commander-in-chief plans to make a dramatic entrance, touching down in a helicopter smack in the middle of Brooklyn’s backyard.
Parts of the park will be off limits from noon to 6 pm “due to security associated with the president’s visit,” according to the Prospect Park Alliance, though it did not say which parts, and, on Tuesday afternoon, five Marine Corps helicopters made an unannounced landing on the ball fields as part of a security drill. Witnesses said that the impromptu helipad was packed with cops and fire department personnel.
On Wednesday, officials said that the entire park would be closed, but they changed their tune the following days and said that only portions of the park will be closed off during Obama’s visit.
“We apologize for the inconvenience and any confusion associated with earlier messages,” said the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park.
President Obama is scheduled to visit Pathways in Technology Early High School in Crown Heights, which he praised in his latest State of the Union address.
He is set to arrive at John F. Kennedy airport at about 1 pm. From there, this paper believes he will board a helicopter that will plop down in Frederick Olmsted’s public playground. A park neighbor said that he’s not thrilled about the closure but worse things could happen than a president coming to commune with the youth.
“It’s a slight inconvenience, but it’s better than landing on my roof,” said Prospect Park West resident Tom Prendergast of the park closure. “In all seriousness, it’s a great honor for the students and it’s something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
Obama is supposed to talk to the high schoolers about “the importance of ensuring that the next generation of middle class American workers and entrepreneurs have the skills they need to compete and win in a global economy,” according to the White House.
A short jog away, historic Green-Wood Cemetery is allowing runners and joggers to wind through its headstone-lined paths for the first time ever today, but it is asking athletes to steer clear of mourners.
“Joggers are asked to show proper respect for those who are grieving or visiting the final resting places of family members and loved ones,” the cemetery said in a press release.
The graveyard will open its gates from noon to 6 pm for one time only to accommodate trail-trotters who will be affected by the closure of Prospect Park.
Runners can enter the cemetery at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue or at 35th Street and Fourth Avenue.