Bill and Hillary Clinton sent the town of Rhinebeck into frenzy as they gathered with friends and family ahead of daughter Chelsea’s wedding.
The Clintons arrived at the Beekman Arms Hotel, where many of their guests are thought to be staying, shortly before 11pm.
Arm in arm, Mr and Mrs Clinton descended from their blacked-out car – the former First Lady, wearing a long green dress, waved to the cheering crowd waiting behind metal barricades – and quickly went into the hotel. The couple left about a half-hour later.
Earlier in the day, the former president of the USAmade an appearance around lunchtime, popping out of a car and walking to a restaurant, greeting people on his way.
“We love it here,” he said to well-wishers who called out to him.
“Chelsea loves the area as well.”
Asked what he thinks of his daughter’s fiancé, Marc Mezvinsky, Mr Clinton replied: “I like him very much, I really do. I admire him. Hillary feels the same way.”
The sight of an ex-president captivated many in the crowd.
“We thought it was great that he walked down here,” said Carol Chestney, of Rhinebeck. “He could have parked right outside. He looks great.”
After lunch, Clinton slowly wound his way out of the restaurant, taking time to shake hands with the kitchen staff and customers, who took pictures of him with their mobile phones. The restaurant’s owner said it would be impolite to reveal what he had for lunch.
He emerged to an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of people who shouted, “We love you!” and “Congratulations!”
Chelsea Clinton is set to marry her longtime boyfriend at an exclusive estate along New York’s Hudson River after weeks of intrigue, secrecy and buzz that caused hundreds to crowd into the small village hoping to catch of a glimpse of a former president, a secretary of state or their publicity-shy daughter.
Details of the wedding were kept fanatically close to the vest, with shopkeepers, innkeepers, vendors and restaurateurs sworn to secrecy.
Roads were closed, the skies were closed over the estate and inconvenienced neighbours were soothed with a complimentary bottle of wine.
As police, private security and Secret Service prowled the town of 8,000, curious residents and tourists alike craned their necks to try to spot an A-list guest, a notable politician or, best of all, a Clinton.
“Maybe I’ll see someone, maybe I won’t,” said Rhinebeck resident Linda Gray, as she sat on a sidewalk bench and watched the hubbub.
Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state during Clinton’s second term as president, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and movie producer Steve Bing were seen on Friday night at the Beekman Arms Hotel.
Miss Clinton and Mr Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University.
They now live in New York, where Mr Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital, a Manhattan hedge fund. He worked previously at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.