Locals on Mount Desert Island last weekend revelled in sharing their national playground with President Obama and the First Family.

And some believe the Obamas’ outdoor vacation to Acadia National Park will pay dividends.

“That’s exciting, them choosing Acadia. … I think in the long run people will say, ‘Oh, the President went there, we should go there,’” said Jon Tierney, owner of the 17-year-old Acadia Mountain Guides climbing school in Bar Harbor.

Others just hoped the Obamas got to experience Acadia as the locals do, and many felt certain they did.

Marla Stellpflug O’Byrne ran into the president at Ship Harbor Trail and the Friends of Acadia president only asked the nation’s president one question.

“I asked him if he was enjoying his weekend, and he said, ‘Oh, yeah!,’” O’Byrne beamed.

Knowing the president and his family walked the trail that winds around ponds, bogs and out to the ocean where Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, could search tidal pools for small creatures delighted O’Byrne.

The Obamas got a real Down East vacation, she said.

“In general everyone was so excited to have the president and his family here to experience Acadia, but also they were very respectful that they were here for a family vacation and they seemed to honor that,” O’Byrne said.

And at least on the Ship Harbor Trail that O’Bryne walks with her dogs three times a week, she said they got a quiet, outdoor experience.

From there the First Family would have seen the Cranberry islands and Duck islands, and gotten a true sense and feel for the Maine coast.

“It’s kind of cool knowing I knew what he saw. There is a lot of diversity there. You walk through the woods, but you also end up along the ocean along beautiful ledgy rock that has ocean waves,” O’Bryne said.

Joe Minuto got to outfit the Obama family for their bike ride through Acadia National Park, and he was struck by the way President Obama remembered Maine from his first visit here.

“I said, ‘What brings you to Maine?’ And he said when he campaigned in 2008 and looked around for the limited time he had, he wanted them to come back and check it out,” Minuto said.

The Obama’s bike outing required outfitting a party of 30 riders that included secret service agents at a private location in the park.

Minuto said it worked out perfectly. And as the owner of the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop for 33 years, Minuto has added outdoor fun to many family vacations.

“When you saw the look on his face when they came around Duck Brook Bridge, he looked really excited. He was smiling and the girls are as cute as could be, looking over the edge of the bridge,” Minuto said.

“You could tell they were really excited to be here. They were happy to be in Maine. You got this really nice, warm feeling from them. They were very genuine, very gracious and very thankful.”

Others hoped the Obamas would stop by their outdoor businesses.

Stable Manager Emily Carpenter at Wildwood Stables, which runs the carriage rides in Acadia, said she and her staff were ready for the Obamas.

But it was business as usual with few disruptions, she said.

“I thought for what they were dealing with, they kept (disruptions) very minimal so as few people as possible would have their vacation plans messed up,” Carpenter said.

For Brian Robertson of Yarmouth, his weekend visit to Acadia — detours, road closings, and all — worked out perfectly. Robertson was on top of Cadillac Mountain when the First Family arrived.

“I wasn’t planning to hike that day but the weather looked better than Saturday, so by fortuitous chance I hiked up that day. To my surprise the park superintendent was there and before I knew it 30 to 40 secret service agents. It was a unique experience,” Robertson said.

There was a group of about 30 hikers and tourists who were on the mountain when the access road was closed. Robertson said the secret service checked each person out, then the President came to meet them.

“He shook our hands and said he was having a lovely experience, and it was a great view,” Robertson said. “I think they were pretty excited. They said it was a great place to be.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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