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Neighbors Welcome Clintons to Town

January 6, 2000

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (AP) _ A reserved copy of ``The Blair Witch Project.″ Top-quality toenail trims for Socks and Buddy. In-home hair styling, courtesy of Santa’s Salon & Spa.

From the video store to the pet grooming shop, people in this Westchester County hamlet prepared for life with President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton by promising nothing but the best.

``I would be willing to offer my services, and I’m pleased to have her in this little town,″ said hair stylist Santa Nikkels, owner of Santa’s Salon & Spa. ``I would be able to do her hair at (her) home.″

Nikkels was so thrilled by the Clintons’ imminent arrival that she sent Mrs. Clinton a letter volunteering her services.

``I told her, `I’m excited because I’m new here, too,‴ said Nikkels, an Ecuadorian immigrant who opened her shop just six months ago.

While some residents in the hamlet of 17,000 have complained about the attention drawn by the first couple, most people seemed eager to greet them in the hours before the couple actually spent their first night in their $1.7 million home.

``I think there’s been some disturbance for the people on the (Clintons’) street,″ said Chappaqua resident Wilma Rapp, a customer at the Q Nails salon. ``Other than that, people feel pretty good about the Clintons.

``You tell somebody you live in Chappaqua and they say, `Oh! Hillary!‴

Some of the more jaded townsfolk observed that Chappaqua’s already has had its share of the famous: actor Chevy Chase, Tony Award-winning actress Glenn Close, New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams.

``There’s a lot of famous people who lived in this town, and still do,″ said David Arco, owner of Chappaqua Limousine. Among the fares his company has ferried in the last 50 years: President Richard Nixon and diplomat Averell Harriman.

At the Blockbuster in neighboring Mount Kisco, assistant manager Carmita DeVries said the staff would be willing to put a few videos aside for the Clintons _ if they called in advance.

``We do that for everybody,″ DeVries stressed, making it clear there was no preferential treatment.

Christine DiPaulo, owner of Wags & Whiskers pet grooming, said the Secret Service already had visited her store. When the presidential pets need a shampoo, this will likely be the place.

The agents ``asked if it would be all right if somebody stayed with the pet,″ DiPaulo said. ``I said, `Of course.′ I don’t really expect to see Mrs. Clinton, though.″

Town Supervisor Marion Sinek, who stopped outside the Clintons’ home on Wednesday, said the couple had chosen to live in Chappaqua for the same reason as many locals.

No, not to run for the U.S. Senate.

``It’s a beautiful suburb with beautiful streets like this,″ the Democratic official said, standing on the Clintons’ new block. ``We are happy to have them. We welcome them.″

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