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White House spruced up to welcome the Obamas
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January 20, 2009 10:16 IST

Preparing the White House for an incoming United States President is an exercise that requires six months of meticulous planning but this time it will be executed in just six hours.

About 100 staffers at the President's official residence will change everything from furniture, clothes to food and carpets in a seamless manner for the new first family -- Barack and Michelle Obama [Images] and their daughters Malia and Sasha.

The move, executed by about 93 residence staffers at the White House, would begin at 11 am on Tuesday and would be wrapped up by 5 pm.

At least two or three trucks will take part in the exercise, which is designed to be seamless, painless, precisely timed and invisible to millions attending the inauguration.

In the morning of January 20, after the Bushes and Obamas depart the executive mansion for the Capitol Hill swearing-in ceremony, moving trucks would roll up to the south side of the White House, a report in the CNN said.

The drivers would put down their tailgates, allowing most of the 93 staff members to begin unloading items of the Obama family, CNN quoted former White House Chief Usher Gary Walters as saying.

"Staff members have been given very specific jobs on that day, almost down to the minute as to what their responsibilities are," Walters said. By about 5 pm, before the Obamas move from the parade viewing stand to their new home, the presidential move must be complete.                         

"Their clothes will be in their closets; everything will be put away. There should be no full or half-empty boxes in view. Furniture will be set in proper places. Their favourite
foods will be in the kitchen or the pantry. The chief usher will welcome them into their home and ask them what they would like to do before going out to enjoy the inaugural balls," Walters added.

The first family would be accompanied by Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson. The White House residence has 24 rooms on the second and third floors and the Obamas have hired California decorator Michael Smith to redecorate the space for about $100,000.

From carpets, office desk, paintings on the wall to books on the Oval Office shelves and accessories around the room, everything in the White House would be re-arranged, keeping in mind the preferences of Obamas.

Once the White House is overhauled for its new residents, Chief Usher Stephen Rochon would probably greet Obama the same way Walters did Bush in 2001. Standing near the doorway to the White House North Portico, Walters told Bush, "Hello, Mr President, welcome to your home."

Following tradition, Bush is expected to leave a personal letter for Obama. Past letters have offered the new president private words of advice and reflection, CNN said.

The clearing out of the Bushes' belongings began over the summer when many items were packed and taken to Crawford, Texas. The Obamas have been temporarily staying in the Hay Adams Hotel and later in the Blair House after shifting from Chicago to Washington earlier this month.

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