President Joe Biden on Tuesday travelled to the US Virgin Islands to ring in the new year with his family, re-establishing a tradition from his time as vice president from 2009 to 2017.
The President was accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, their daughter Ashley and her husband, Howard Krein, as well as grandchildren Natalie and Hunter, whose father was the President's late son, Beau.
“We’re tremendously honoured,” Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat who represents the Virgin Islands in Congress, told The Associated Press.
“In the past, when he and his family have come, of course, sightings of President Biden were almost a thing of legend,” she said.
The last time the family visited the island in 2019, Mr Biden was a civilian and locals spotted the couple ringing in the new year at Point Udall’s Millennium Monument, built in 2000.
The Bidens normally bunk up at a beachfront property along St Croix’s East End Road.
The Virgin Islands are made of up two other islands, St Thomas and St John.
Local media reported that Mr Biden had attended mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Christiansted during previous visits.
Mr Biden will be the first president to visit the territory since Bill Clinton visited in the 1990s.
Barack Obama was spotted in 2007 when he was running for president.
The President spent the holidays at his home in Delaware in 2020 and 2021, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We always look forward to his coming and we really understand that this is a place of relaxation for him and Jill and whatever other family he may bring with him and so we leave him alone and let him just relax,” said Donna Christensen, who was Ms Plaskett’s predecessor in Congress.
“He usually says: ‘In my next life, I’m living in St Croix.’”
Both Ms Plaskett and Ms Christensen expressed hope that attention paid to where Mr Biden spends his year-end holiday will amplify challenges facing the Virgin Islands and other US territories, including threats from climate change as well as ageing infrastructure.
US Virgin Islands National Park — in pictures
The Associated Press contributed to this report