Did President Joe Biden make any unexpected trips to downtown Rehoboth Beach during his recent visit to his North Shores home? No.
However, he sure did make the holiday break of one Henlopen Acres family by unexpectedly autographing a poster they made for his arrival and left for him to find in the grass near his home.
Beginning the afternoon of Dec. 27, Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spent a couple of days at their house just north of Rehoboth Beach. The couple didn’t venture far from their Farview Road residence, but they did enjoy a brief walk on the beach Dec. 28 with their new dog Commander. During the walk, the president autographed a “WELCOME MR. PRESIDENT” sign made by the Duber family, who have a house in Henlopen Acres.
Sitting in the living room of the house owned by her grandparents Marc and Nancy Duber, the adrenaline was still pumping for 8-year-old Charlotte Duber.
“My heart dropped out of my body,” said Charlotte, describing how she felt when she saw the autograph on the sign.
Bloomberg News White House reporter Jenny Leonard first noted the autograph in a tweet shortly after the Bidens were done with their walk.
“@POTUS and @FLOTUS took puppy Commander for a walk on the beach in Rehoboth tonight. Then he signed a welcome sign his neighbors made for him,” wrote Leonard, who accompanied the tweet with a photo of the Bidens walking on the beach and a picture of the sign.
The timing of the signature means it was done on the birthday of Charlotte’s younger brother Ashton, who turned 6 Dec. 28. Tired from the birthday the day before and the excitement of having found the sign, Ashton didn’t have much to say about the autograph. His family encouraged him to say the autograph was his favorite gift, but, in true 6-year-old boy fashion, when going to take a picture of the autographed sign, he picked up a new bow and suction-cup arrow set, and said that was his favorite gift. That got a groan from the adults as he loaded an arrow.
Charlotte was more than happy to fill in the details. She said the family heard the president was going to be in town, and she suggested making the sign. The adults agreed it was a good idea. Her aunt Lily Duber retrieved a piece of cardboard from presents opened earlier in the week to stabilize the sign and wrote the block letters on the piece of white paper. Charlotte and Ashton colored in the letters – which in reality meant Charlotte colored everything but the upper left portion of the letter ‘W.’
Sign made, the Dubers got as close as they could the day the Bidens arrived, watched Marine One land in the Gordons Pond parking lot, and waved as the presidential motorcade went by. Before leaving to go home, the family decided to place the sign in the grass on the side of the road.
Just in case he saw it, said Lily.
Two days later, the morning of Dec. 29, an unidentified woman knocked on the front door of the Dubers to let them know the sign now had the president’s signature on it. The family still doesn’t know who the woman is.
“We were upstairs working out and almost didn’t get the door,” said Lily, adding her hands were shaking when she saw the sign. “But we went down immediately after she told us.”
Having retrieved the sign, the Dubers asked a Secret Service agent if he knew anything. He didn’t, they said, but he confirmed Biden enjoys doing things like that and that the signature looks like the president’s. Lily was able to find the tweet from Leonard corroborating what the unidentified woman told them.
This isn’t the first time the Dubers have crossed paths with Biden in Rehoboth. There’s a framed picture in the living room of the Henlopen Acres home showing Marc with then-Vice President Biden, who is holding an ice cream cone, standing on North Second Street in downtown Rehoboth Beach. The Bidens were expected to be in town through Dec. 30, but they decided to head north, by motorcade, to their Greenville home in New Castle County a day early.
In the hours immediately after retrieving the sign, the Dubers weren’t sure where it would later be placed, but they knew it was going to be framed and displayed.
“It’s going to be someplace where everyone can see it,” said Charlotte.