President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande visited Monticello Monday afternoon - a visit that made history in Albemarle County.
The two landed at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport around 4 p.m. They were greeted by Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja, along with a crowd of media onlookers, as they stepped off the plane.
"We have great history of our community and I think we share the richness of our heritage and that's why the French president is here,” said Huja.
For security reasons, neither the presidents’ exact route of travel nor the exact roads that would be closed were announced to the public beforehand. Albemarle County police did, however, tweet alternative travel options for people looking to avoid the road closures during the presidential visit.
People lined up along Route 29 in Albemarle County to get a glimpse as a police motorcade escorted all three on Route 29, which was blocked off in parts, to and from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
Not only was the Monticello visit a first for both presidents, but it was also the first state visit hosted by President Obama and the first lady in more than two and a half years. A spokesperson for Monticello says Hollande is arguably the most distinguished French visitor at the house since the 1800s.
“I thought this was an appropriate way to start a state visit because what it signifies is the incredible history between the United States and France,” said President Obama.
President Hollande’s three-day visit to the United State will be a time to reflect on the past, present, and future.
“We'll have an opportunity to talk about our current bonds and alliance, but also ways that we can strengthen our cooperation in the future,” said President Obama.
The final days of President Hollande's trip will take him everywhere from the White House to Silicon Valley.
Schools in Charlottesville and Albemarle County dismissed students from class early to avoid traffic tie-ups from the presidential visit. Both the city and county released students two hours earlier than usual.
Parents said even though they had to make special arrangements to pick up their children, they are not bothered by the inconvenience.
"Yeah of course - he is the president. You know what? He is the president of the country and he is coming here for a purpose. We have to respect that as well. I'm so glad he is coming here,” said parent Isam Salih.
Parents were notified of specific school dismissal times last week. Albemarle County estimated that the visit would impact 70 percent of the school division's population.
On Tuesday, both presidents will hold a joint press conference and visit the Arlington National Cemetery.
NBC29 team coverage on the presidential visit to Monticello included reports by Natalie Wilson, Matt Talhelm, Henry Graff and Marcella Robertson.
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