COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The atmosphere in this idyllic upstate village - source of the Susquehanna River and home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum - is electric in anticipation of a visit by President Barack Obama.
Few details are available regarding the presidential stop in the place that bills itself as “America’s Perfect Village,” aside from a planned visit to the baseball shrine on Main Street.
But, for locals, the fact that the leader of the free world has selected Cooperstown validates a self-image as a destination of many attractions including art museums, an opera and, of course, the Hall of Fame.
"People in New York City don't hop in the car to go to Binghamton or Unadilla," said Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz.
Word of Obama's trip broke in Saturday's edition of The Oneonta Daily Star. He confirmed plans to visit Cooperstown to talk about tourism during his weekly radio address later that day: “Because, believe it or not, tourism is an export. And if we make it easier for more foreign visitors to visit and spend money at America's attractions and unparalleled national parks, that helps local businesses and grows the economy for everyone."
Katz offered no predictions as to how many people will be in town Thursday, though he said it's unlikely to approach the 13,000 who packed Doubleday Field in 2004 to see a double-bill concert of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.
The village's population is about 1,900.
"This is very exciting stuff for us," he said. "The last president to visit Cooperstown was Martin Van Buren, and that happened in 1839."
U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson said the visit is great news for the region.
"This is definitely going to be good for tourism," Gibson said. "We're big supporters of the Hall of Fame, and it's great for the Hall of Fame that this is happening."