July 31, 2010 in Nation/World

Town embraces father of the bride

Jim Fitzgerald Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Former President Bill Clinton leaves a restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y., on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

RHINEBECK, N.Y. – Bill Clinton made a long-anticipated appearance in the upstate New York village where his daughter is getting married, drawing crowds of onlookers Friday afternoon as preparations continued largely out of sight for the grand and secretive occasion.

The former president walked with security a few blocks north from the picturesque village’s main intersection to the restaurant Gigi Trattoria.

“We love it here,” he said. “Chelsea loves the area as well.”

How’s she doing?

“She’s doing well.”

Chelsea Clinton is expected to marry her longtime boyfriend, investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, at a ceremony this evening attended by 400 to 500 people at the grand Astor Courts, an estate on the scenic east bank of the Hudson River. Rumors had abounded for weeks leading up to Friday, including one that Rhinebeck was an elaborate decoy planned by the media-shy Chelsea and that the wedding would be elsewhere.

The appearance of the former president put all the conspiracy talk to rest.

The sight of an ex-president captivated many in the crowd. For the record, Dutchess County, which contains Rhinebeck, voted for Clinton and Al Gore in 1996.

“We thought it was great that he walked down here,” said Carol Chestney, of Rhinebeck. “He could have parked right outside. He looks great.”

Meanwhile, a longtime Clinton family friend adamantly denied that the cost of the wedding would be more than $1 million. The friend spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with the family’s desire for privacy.

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