NAPLES — A select group of Southwest Floridians may be the only ones able to catch a glimpse of Michelle Obama in Naples on Friday, and officials said her brief stop will have little impact on the day-to-day activities of residents and visitors.
The first lady is scheduled to attend a private fundraiser at the Inn on Fifth, 699 Fifth Ave. S., Friday afternoon.
The event is expected to be similar to one presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney made to Naples earlier this month. That trip, much like today’s visit from the first lady, was for a private fundraiser.
And while private events mean the masses likely won’t get a peek at Obama, it does mean fewer headaches for folks trying to go about their normal routine.
Obama is expected to arrive at the Naples Municipal Airport at 3:15 p.m., where she’ll be greeted by students from Avalon and Mike Davis elementary schools.
Students at both schools participate in the Farm to School program, which provides students with fresh fruits and vegetables from locally grown farms. The program supports Florida farmers and local economies, and this year has provided Avalon and Mike Davis students with fruits like blueberries and watermelons.
Avalon students also recently won first place in a University of Florida school garden competition, while Mike Davis students started a running club to promote physical activity among third- to fifth-grade students.
District spokesman Joe Landon said two students will be at the plane to greet Obama, while the rest of the students will be in a roped off area where they will be able to see her.
Obama is then expected to head to a meet and greet with campaign volunteers before heading to the Inn on Fifth for the fundraiser.
Lt. John Barkley, a spokesman for the Naples Police Department, said while his office would be involved in the security detail, he could not disclose any tactical information, including the first lady’s motorcade route.
Barkley did say, however, the city isn’t anticipating there will be problems accessing parking or businesses on or around Fifth Avenue South. He also said he did not believe there would be “any long term road closures.”
This may be Obama’s first visit to Naples, but Chuck Mohlke, a longtime member of the Collier County Democratic Party, said Democrats have been setting the stage for a visit of this caliber for years.
Mohlke said Vice President Joe Biden has visited the area twice for fundraisers, both of which were “hugely successful.” That success, he said, has allowed Democrat supporters to woo more people to the region, despite it being a Republican stronghold.
“When you bring people like the first lady (to the area) it provides a presence and a strong interest in our support,” Mohlke said.
Staff writer Heather Carney contributed to this report.