Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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“It’s happening at Yak A Doos”

Those words on the marquee sign in front of the Holiday Inn on U.S. 17 sure were accurate today. Here are some highlights from covering POTUS.

9:55 a.m. – We arrive to cover the 11:30 am speech. Rotarians are already lined up in the lobby. Security is screening folks with metal detectors and dogs are sniffing camera equipment to make sure it’s legit.

10 a.m. – White House reporters from Washington have a problem. They’ve just figured out they’re not really in Fredericksburg, and are panicking about how to dateline their stories. When a local reporter tells them they’re in “Stafford County,” their minds are not eased. “You mean we’re not in a town?” Nope. Surprisingly, no one uses “Yak-A-Doos” as a dateline.

10:01 a.m. – Rotarians begin filing into the dining room with plates piled with steaming buffet fare–beef, peas, potatoes, pasta and big hunks of cheesecake. Under the bright television lights, they pretend it’s really lunchtime and eat. A front corner of the dining room is draped with blue curtains, marking the spot where Bush will make his entrance.

11:08 a.m. – The room goes quiet when the piped-in Christmas music stops. Could Bush be near? All the small talk resumes when the DJ puts on “Holly Jolly Christmas” from the classic “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

11:13 a.m. – A guy in a suit walks out and sticks the Presidential seal on the podium. “Anytime that happens, it means he’s pretty close,” a black-clad security guy tells an officer of the Stafford Fire and Rescue squad. The Fox News correspondent is freaking out about whether the press will get a two-minute warning on Bush’s arrival.

11:16 a.m. – Unidentified rumble. Probably motorcycles from the motorcade. An army of photographers invades the room and starts jockeying for position.

11:20 a.m. – A guy in a suit yells, “Turn that music off.” Eric Cantor, Rob Wittman and Richard Stuart take their seats after a long morning of handshaking.

11:21 a.m. – President Bush has arrived. Christmas music is still on in the background. Read the rest in tomorrow’s paper.