Obama Expected in Midtown for Speech at Al Sharpton's Gala
By Kiratiana Freelon on April 6, 2011 6:50am |
By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — A week after holding a fundraiser in Harlem, President Barack Obama is coming back to Manhattan Wednesday for a brief visit to Midtown that could wreak havoc on the evening commute.
Obama will arrive at JFK Airport at 5 p.m. and immediately make his way to the Sheraton New York Hotel on Seventh Avenue between West 52rd and West 53rd Street for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual National Action Network Keepers of the Dream Awards Gala, according to his public schedule.
He will address attendees around 6 p.m. and his remarks will be carried live by NY1.
By 7:40 p.m., just two hours and 40 minutes after his arrival, the president will depart the Big Apple via JFK.
Commuters and tourists alike should be prepared for delays, detours and frozen zones around midtown during the president's visit.
While the MTA had not scheduled any service changes as of Wednesday morning, a spokesperson warned commuters to expect delays on buses that cross paths with the president's motorcade, including the M5, M9, M14, M15, M16, M20, M21, M22, M23, M34, M42, M50, beginning around 5 p.m.
The Sheraton New York declined to comment on how security efforts might affect their Midtown neighbors.
But at least one hotel guest said she definitely noticed the heightened security and had no idea Obama was speaking at the hotel.
"I'm glad hear that [the president is coming here]," said Carol Emerson, 70, who was visiting New York from Texas, "because there are all these bomb sniffing dogs and police."
A worker for the National Action Network said she saw the secret service go through the ballroom where Obama is scheduled to speak with bomb sniffing dogs around 10 a.m.
Obama was in town last week for a fundraising event at the Red Rooster Harlem, which drew throngs of local admirers.
The president officially kicked off his reelection campaign on Monday, with an ad featuring a young New Yorker named Mike.