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Rhinebeck's all abuzz for Chelsea Clinton's wedding

Bill and Hillary Clinton leave a party in

Bill and Hillary Clinton leave a party in honor of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, N.Y. (July 30, 2010) Credit: AP

RHINEBECK - This picturesque town off the Hudson River is more than ready for its close-up, as Rhinebeck shares the spotlight with Chelsea Clinton on the wedding day for the 30-year-old daughter of Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hours from the Clinton-Mezvinsky nuptials, it was all wedding-mania all the time Saturday.

The ceremony tonight is expected to have 400 to 500 guests, but details of the wedding were kept fanatically close to the vest, with shopkeepers, innkeepers, vendors and restaurateurs sworn to secrecy.

Roads were closed, the skies were closed over the estate and inconvenienced neighbors were soothed with a complimentary bottle of wine.

As police, private security and Secret Service prowled the town of 8,000, curious residents and tourists alike craned their necks to try to spot an A-list guest, a notable politician or, best of all, a Clinton.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hotel where many of the guests are staying were rewarded Friday night when the Clintons exited a van arm-in-arm outside the Beekman Arms Hotel.

Shortly before 11 p.m., the former first lady, wearing a long, green dress, waved to the cheering crowd waiting behind metal barricades and quickly went into the hotel. The couple left about a half-hour later.


Earlier Friday the former president himself strolled the streets and dined at a local restaurant, as he and his wife got ready to hand off their only child to Marc Mezvinsky at a private ceremony at the historic Astor Courts.

The event is literally the talk of the town.

"Did you see him?" one small child asked his mom as they strolled a town street Friday.

Outside Pete's Famous Restaurant, a greasy spoon on East Market Street, Wayne Brandes sat on the back of a pickup truck hawking freshly silk-screened T-shirts for the occasion.

"The wedding. Rhinebeck, NY. July 31," say the shirts, which went for $25 a piece and feature intertwined wedding bands. "Get your T-shirts!" Brandes shouted. "You can't leave Rhinebeck without 'em!"

One of his customers was Nancy Chando, a local who spent part of Friday taking friends out on the Hudson on her Jet Ski to spy a peek at the riverside mansion where the ceremony's set to take place.

"I'm still waiting for that invitation to come. But at least I'll have my shirt," she said.

Down the street, Deb Belding, the proprietor of the Rug Garden shop, served cake and Champagne in the street.

"Should we raise a toast?" she shouted.

"Rhinebeck! A great place to get married!" answered Barbara Markell, a passerby and financial planner, originally from Queens.

The Beekman Arms Inn, one of several Rhinebeck establishments where wedding guests were staying, kicked the public out of its dining room at 8 p.m. Friday.

In walked an army of sky-blue-shirt-wearing party planners and black-suit-clad security. A spiral-bound book contained the guest list, laid out yearbook style with accompanying photos for identification. Those allowed into the pre-wedding reception wore a "Welcome" wristband and blue lapel pin.

"Is the motorcade here yet?" one of the peppy planners whispered as cops stood sentry on nearby streets.

Late Friday night, still hundreds packed the streets hoping for a peek at the spectacle.

Earlier, Zachary Seman, a 21-year-old college student, rode his bike to work across the street from the Beekman in anticipation of the traffic nightmare.

"I feel good that I'm not here to see it. I'm here cuz I have work," he said, craning his neck to see what all the fuss was about.

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