Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Lee County Saturday night, April 8, with his wife - attending service Sunday morning at the Sanibel Community Church, as well as dinner at Timbers Restaurant during his first-full day stay on Sanibel.
"I was on Causeway Island A setting up for Sanibel Sea School's annual fundraiser, Octifest, as Mike Pence's motorcade came across the bridge," Sanibel Sea School Director of Communications Leah Biery said. "A few groups of armed motorcycles went first, followed by a dozen or so large SUVs, an ambulance, and more motorcycles. Island-bound lanes were closed, and the vehicles drove very fast, maybe 70 miles per hour. I'm sure it was an unexpected sight for many people who were enjoying a quiet day on the Causeway."
Earlier in the day, they saw police dogs at work, and there were numerous police vehicles in the area throughout Saturday afternoon on the Causeway, she added.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen following a service at Sanibel Community Church.
PASTOR BARB NAVE
Around 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Sanibel Community Church Senior Pastor Dr. Daryl Donovan and his staff were going about their usual routine having their prayer time when they saw black cars pull into the parking lot with about 15 to 20 security personnel. His initial reaction, "Oh, my goodness, I think he is coming here today."
Because there are multiple entrances to the church, Donovan said there had to be people posted on all four sides of the chapel.
Vice President Pence and his wife arrived at the 8 a.m. service about 10 minutes late.
"They were very sensitive to not disrupt people," Donovan said.
He admitted that he was a little surprised that Pence arrived for the 8 a.m. service.
"I think for me, the overwhelming feeling was that he took the time to come here," Donovan said. "I just thought, 'Wow he has to be exhausted because of all the things that had been going on.' If I just landed on Saturday night, I would have been tempted to sleep in. That took a lot of effort for that to happen."
During the service, the vice president and his wife sat towards Donovan's right in the cross-shaped chapel.
"They didn't clear the people out. He just sat among the people that were there," he said of Pence. "When we had communion at the end, he and his wife participated in that as well. They were really there to worship. It wasn't about a show, a political statement. They were there to worship."
Donovan said during service he acknowledged that Pence was with them, and took a moment of silence and prayed for the vice president.
"It was a special day," he said.
Before the next service Sunday morning, Donavan shook hands with Pence, which was followed by the vice president sharing that he had been attending service at the Sanibel Community Church for years.
He said, the vice president told him, "We love this church and God is doing a special thing here."
When Pence was governor of Indiana, he also attended the 8 a.m. service when he was in town, Donovan said.
"Even when he did come here, he would slip in and slip out," he said of when he attended service as the governor. "Only through other people, I knew he was with us."
Pence and his wife also enjoyed dinner at Timbers Restaurant Sunday night.
Matt Asen, of Timbers, said, Pence told him he has been eating at the restaurant for 10 years while visiting the island. He said Pence greeted him by name and "squeezes me like we are long lost buddies."
"His wife always has the barbecue shrimp," he said, adding that Pence always looks at the fish case when deciding what he will have for dinner. "They shared a crab cake appetizer."
Asen said they spent time chatting, as well as Pence posing for pictures, shaking customer's hands, signing menus and being "congenial and friendly as anyone I have ever seen."
During their conversation Asen told Pence that he's looking forward to the day he can call him Mr. President. He said he told him he hopes he will receive an invitation to the White House, so he can bring shrimp and fish and cook for him.
Council member Jason Maughan said he believes that City Council and Sanibel residents are honored that the vice president of the United States sees the same beauty, quiet, and relaxation that such a community affords.
He said he was also extremely proud of Police Chief Billy Dalton and the Sanibel Police Department for their assistance while the vice president was on the island.
"The effects on traffic has been very minimal and it appears that they took careful steps to avoid causing disruption to the island community," Maughan said Monday, April 10.