Eight years ago, the West Texas city of Midland hosted a send-off as then-President-elect George W. Bush headed for the White House. The community is now poised for a welcome home celebration.
This morning, Mr. Bush spent his final hours as president making calls to National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and he took a call from his former Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, according to White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Following the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president, Mr. Bush and his wife Laura boarded a helicopter alongside the U.S. Capitol. The new president and his wife walked them to the chopper - keeping with tradition - to see them off.
After the homecoming celebration, they'll go to their ranch in Crawford for their first night as private citizens again.
Some city streets have been closed since Friday and almost all of the 20,000 free tickets to the celebration have been handed out.
"The president said at the White House Christmas party that he left from Midland and was coming home to Midland because we're the ones who are his friends and great supporters and he wanted to be with us when he left Washington," County Republican Chairwoman Sue Brannon said in Monday's online edition of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. "It shows what a fine gentleman he is."
As of Monday afternoon, 1,500 free tickets remained for the event which will feature entertainment by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Rodney Atkins and Lee Greenwood.
Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are expected to be traveling with George W. Bush, but aren't expected to participate in the rally.
Gov. Rick Perry, state Rep. Tom Craddick and Midland Mayor Wes Perry are among those scheduled to speak during the afternoon event.
George W. Bush and his wife expect to make a new home in Texas, having bought an 8,000-square-foot home on a quiet cul-de-sac in a north Dallas neighborhood.
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