President Biden’s Security Apparatus Descends On Nantucket Ahead Of Thanksgiving Visit

Written By: Jason Graziadei | Photography By: Kit Noble

The buildup to President Joe Biden’s visit to Nantucket came fast and furious over the weekend, as military aircraft descended on the island, a throng of State Police Troopers arrived by ferry, and temporary flight restrictions were announced for a vast area up to 30 nautical miles around Nantucket Memorial Airport. 

Photo by Peter Sutters

The Bidens are expected to arrive on the island tomorrow, touching down sometime after 6 p.m. Due to the small size of the island’s airport, the Bidens will likely not be arriving in the Air Force Boeing 747 that is traditionally used as Air Force One, but rather a smaller aircraft. Technically, any Air Force aircraft carrying the U.S. President is considered Air Force One.  

From there, the Presidential motorcade is expected to take the Bidens to their lodging for the holiday: the compound of billionaire businessman David Rubenstein on Nantucket Harbor, a source told the Current

On Friday morning, a State Police helicopter repeatedly circled over the property, located on the secluded Abrams Point. During one of his previous visits to Nantucket as Vice President during the Obama administration in 2014, Biden and his family stayed at Rubenstein’s property that is accessed by a narrow dirt road in the Polpis area. Rubenstein is the co-founder and co-executive chairman of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

Despite the massive security apparatus and travelling White House personnel that will accompany the Bidens to Nantucket this week, at least some of the family’s island holiday traditions are expected to continue. Their Thanksgiving dinner will almost certainly be cooked by Bill Puder at Faregrounds restaurant, who has prepared the holiday meal for the Bidens dozens of times over the years. Sources told the Current that Biden is also expected to once again attend the annual Christmas tree lighting event on Main Street this Friday, and potentially Catholic mass at the St. Mary church on Federal Street on Saturday. 

Photo by Dawn Mayer

The preparations for the Bidens’ arrival were clearly evident over the weekend in the skies above the island, along the cobblestoned streets, and at Nantucket’s transportation hubs. Around noon on Saturday, a U.S. Marine Corps HMX-1 Nighthawk – the helicopter that is called Marine One when the President is aboard – was spotted flying over the downtown area and back to Nantucket Memorial Airport. Hours later, a C-17A Globemaster from the McGuire Air Force base in New Jersey touched down at the airport to deliver additional equipment and crews. A Marine Corps osprey aircraft was also spotted flying over the island. 

In the downtown area, military vehicles arrived by Steamship Authority ferry, taking the route up Broad Street and onto Federal Street before heading out to airport property at the end of Old South Road. 

On Sunday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration announced temporary flight restrictions around the island that go into effect Tuesday at 6 p.m. through Sunday, Nov. 28. The restrictions extend in a ring that is 30 nautical miles around the island, and up to 18,000 feet. They are in addition to ​the series of temporary security changes that were announced by the airport last week, including new screening requirements for all passengers and crew arriving or departing from the airport. 

Photo by Allen Breed

Meanwhile, a large group of Massachusetts State Police Troopers arrived on the island Sunday morning via the Steamship Authority. A dozen State Police motorcycles and cruisers made the trip, and were then spotted massing at the old fire station on Pleasant Street with Nantucket’s State Troopers, including Sgt. Kevin Bates. 

Nantucket Current will be covering the President’s visit to Nantucket all week. Send us your photos and videos of President Biden and his entourage on Nantucket to be featured at @NantucketCurrent and in the Nantucket Current newsletter. E-mail us at

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