CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Clinton-spotting has become somewhat of a local hobby in Chappaqua, the hamlet in New Castle where the former first couple purchased their Old House Lane home in 1999.
After moving out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Bill and Hillary took up residence at an 11-room Dutch colonial house on a cul-de-sac full-time in 2001. They just purchased the $1.6 million house next door, reportedly for daughter Chelsea and her family.
Bill, a vegan, and Hillary have been known to frequent Le Jardin Du Roi, a french bistro, as well as Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessen.
The tall, white-haired 42nd leader of the free world has also thrilled local folks by stopping to chat as he was out walking his dog at a nearby nature preserve – just like any normal guy, except that he was probably being watched over by secret service agents.
But it has been Hillary’s recent walks in the woods, after losing the presidential election to Bedford billionaire Donald Trump, that has generated the most headlines.
Earlier this month, Saturday Night Live had some fun with Hillary’s ramblings.
In a skit called “The Hunt For Hil,” which spoofed shows like “Finding Bigfoot,” includes a character loosely based on a real local woman who had met up with Hillary in a 44-acre preserve, and two men tried to lure her out by using her trademarked laugh and then leaving an article about the Wisconsin recount in the woods.
When that fails, they hire a shaman, who tells them she’s buying eggs at the grocery store. They head off to a ShopRite, said a recent Daily Voice article, noting that there is no such store in Chappaqua.
Hillary herself used the occasion of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s recent retirement tribute and portrait unveiling to unleash some dark humor, according to multiple media reports.
Wearing a purple pantsuit, the former secretary of state and winner of the popular vote on Nov. 8, waited for her standing ovation to peter out before allowing that her speech was “not exactly” the one she hoped to be giving at the Capitol after the election.
After a “few weeks of taking selfies in the woods,” she said with a broad smile, “I thought it would be a good idea to come out,” media reports said.
One of the folks Hillary bumped into at the preserve posted something about the meet-up on her Facebook page. That woman said she received hate mail after the story went viral.
Nevertheless, the Washington Post reported this past Friday that their reporters had dug up a whole clutch of "Chappaquarians" with personal stories they say put rumors of staged encounters to rest.
It’s not uncommon for them see Hillary sans makeup and wearing her familiar blue fleece jacket walking her poodle, they told The Washington Post.
One of them recalled a snowy winter day when she spotted the couple holding hands. Another remembered Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic convention this summer, where he talked about taking a stroll with his future wife, and how they have been “walking and talking” since, The Washingon Post story said.
Hillary has been met with warm responses from folks outside her home base as well.
While in The Savoy Bookstore in Westerly, R.I., in late November, her mere presence caused employee Jessica Wick to choke up.
In a poignant post on her Facebook page, the young poet said she tried not to be "inappropriate or intrusive" as she thanked Hillary and tried to express what it meant to vote for her.
"We all deserve privacy," Wick wrote.
Hillary was "gracious" and "warm" and told Wick that the bookstore was beautiful and Bill shook her hand, she said.
"I wish them a good future, and loads of good books and interesting reading. This was definitely one of the coolest things to have happened to me," Wick wrote.