THURMONT, Md. (WJZ)– Some of the most powerful men and women in the world are arriving in Western Maryland. The G-8 Summit is getting underway outside Thurmont and the small mountain town is buzzing with activity.
Mike Hellgren reports.
President Barack Obama has visited Camp David 54 days during his presidency. His predecessor George W. Bush by this time in his term had visited 256 days. So you might think residents are used to this, but not on this scale.
For many in Thurmont, the protesters and reporters from around the world covering them are the attraction.
Frank Shriner, Thurmont resident: “It’s not bad. It’s quiet down here and everything.”
Hellgren: “It provides a little excitement?”
It’s a spectacle in a town a few hundred feet below the retreat where the world’s power players are gathered. But it’s also a world away.
“When I was a Marine at Camp David under the Reagan and Bush administrations, it’s surrounded by woods, a lot of deer and wildlife. It’s serene, it’s quiet. You can take a stroll in the middle of the woods– the president can– knowing that the Marines, sailors, Air Force, and everyone up there in the Secret Service are guarding him. And he can relax,” Martin Burns, mayor of Thurmont, said.
“We live down here and Camp David’s up on the mountain When the president’s up there, we see his motorcade come up [U.S. Route] 15 and the helicopters fly overhead,” John Kinnaird, a commissioner of Thurmont, said.
Along with the excitement though, there is also some frustration here.
“It’s our kid’s life at risk. Plus, I have my pit bull here with me so he’s fine. He’ll protect,” said Thurmont resident Rose Bartlett.
But there are signs of a warm welcome. It’s hard to find some place not decked out in red, white and blue– it’s the American way.
“People in town are pretty amused by it because we live it. Camp David is just over us. So we see the president come and go. We see dignitaries come and go. So it’s really not anything that we don’t see on a daily basis,” Kinnaird said.
At times, it seemed that there were more police than protesters. The local government still has not been reimbursed from the federal government for all the security costs.
Protesters from Occupy Baltimore and Occupy Frederick are in Thurmont but it has been very peaceful so the authorities have not had to activate their security plans.
The G-8 leaders head to Chicago for the NATO Summit after this meeting. Most are expected to leave Camp David Saturday night.