August 20, 2014 / 7:59 PM / 4 years ago

With Obama a recluse on holiday, tourists make do with 'Obamaritas'

VINEYARD HAVEN Massachusetts (Reuters) - Against a backdrop of white boats bobbing in the harbor, summer visitors with windswept hair order scoops of Mad Martha’s Ice Cream, and if they’d hoped U.S. President Barack Obama, vacationing nearby, would join them, they dream in vain.

U.S. President Barack Obama cycles with his daughter Malia during their family vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts August 15, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“We’ve all been waiting, but nothing,” said Ena Pejkovic, 24, a cashier at the shop’s Vineyard Haven location on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, near which Obama is on holiday with his family.

Indeed, few on the island have seen the 44th U.S. president, who is now more than halfway through a two-week vacation.

Obama’s retreat, like his past four presidential stays on Martha’s Vineyard, has been a private one, comprising regular tee-offs at an Oak Bluffs golf club, a few dinners at upscale restaurants, and an evening at a jazz concert.

Still, the president hasn’t entirely escaped the pressures of office while on holiday. He has spoken publicly about escalating violence in Iraq, and rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, and even interrupted his idyll to return to Washington for two days of meetings with advisors before recommencing his break.

Onlookers hoping for a glimpse of the chief executive have documented as much as can be seen: When the presidential motorcade peeled out Sunday evening from Atria, an Edgartown restaurant, islanders thronged on the sidewalk, their faces blue in the glow of smartphones.

For some, the First Family’s visits are run-of-the-mill.

“The island has gotten used to it,” Douglas Nash, 64, said of the Obama vacation, as he sat with wife in a park in Oaks Bluffs, where he has been summering for 35 years, without seeing the president. “It’s not a big deal anymore.”

And in the spirit of an island that’s small but conveniently dotted with hiding spots, Obama’s less renowned fellow vacationers tend not to begrudge the First Family their need for privacy.

“They’re on vacation. Let them enjoy it,” said Russell Fritz, 64, of Connecticut, a long-time summer visitor to the island, as he painted a home he owns in Oak Bluffs.

Even so, the possibility that Obama could show up anywhere at any time, however unlikely, has been enough to sustain a profitable, seasonal industry of Obama-themed products.

At Sharky’s Cantina, a Mexican eatery in Oak Bluffs, Paige McCarthy, 26, mixes about 30 ‘Obamaritas’ per shift. The pineapple-flavored cocktail, which pays homage to the president’s Hawaiian roots, is one of the bar’s top sellers.

Nearby, at the Soft as a Grape gift store, “I summered with President Obama” T-shirts ($16.99) are the best seller, said store manager Nadica Curcin, 28.

Over at Mad Martha’s Ice Cream, the shop’s “Barock My World” flavor – espresso ice cream with caramel swirl and macadamia nuts – sold out in just three days, said Pejkovic.

Reporting by Elizabeth Barber; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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