by Ernice Gilbert
Preparations are being made by the United States Secret Service and the White House for President Joseph Biden’s arrival to St. Croix later this month, where the sitting president — who on several occasions has welcomed the new year with his family on the Big Island — will spend his precious year-end vacation time.
People with knowledge of the president’s arrival did not share the exact date and time of his visit to St. Croix, only noting that it’s later this month. In 2015 and again in 2016, Mr. Biden welcomed the new year on St. Croix.
During his visits in the recent past, Mr. Biden was vice president during President Barack Obama’s second term in office. His arrival this month will mark his first visit to the USVI as a sitting president, and among the rare visits that U.S. presidents have made to the U.S. Virgin Islands while in office.
Mr. Obama visited St. Thomas in March 2008 when he was an Illinois senator and democratic candidate hopeful for U.S. president. Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush did not visit the territory, and Mr. Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, visited the USVI in 2018, which was long after Mr. Clinton’s presidency.
Herbert Clark Hoover was the first sitting U.S. President to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, landing on St. Thomas on March 17, 1931. At the time, Paul M. Pearson was governor, having arrived just ten days prior and was appointed the USVI’s first civilian governor.
Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman visited St. Croix in February, 1948, and delivered a speech in Christiansted while a sitting president.
Mr. Biden’s impending arrival has placed a strain on the territory’s limited hospitality stock, including hotel rooms and car rentals — two of the most in-demand items during the holiday season on St. Croix, which is also the month St. Croix celebrates the Crucian Christmas Festival.