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Trump expected to arrive on Dec. 23 for last presidential Christmas at Mar-a-Lago

Christine Stapleton
Palm Beach Post
During their visit to Mar-a-Lago in 2017, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump called children waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.

President Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Palm Beach on Dec. 23 and return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 3 after his last Christmas and New Years at Mar-a-Lago as president, according to a source who learned of the visit from the Secret Service.

Widespread speculation in the past week had previously suggested that Trump might spend his final Christmas in office in the White House, or that he might come to Mar-a-Lago and not return to Washington for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Jan. 20.

More:The Trump effect in Palm Beach County: His presidency altered business and politics; his personality affected the people

How Trump will spend the holiday and how many family members will join him is not known. The first couple will not be going to Bethesda-by-the-Sea, where they have traditionally attended Christmas Eve services. The church, where the couple married and their son Baron was baptized, is holding virtual Christmas Eve services on YouTube.

However, Trump and the first lady could attend live services at Family Church in West Palm Beach. Last year, Trump broke with tradition and went to Christmas Eve services at the evangelical church during a time in the campaign when his behavior was being criticized by some evangelical Christian scholars.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for Christmas dinner in the ballroom at Mar-a-Lago on Christmas Eve 2019.

Also unknown is whether Trump will host his annual New Year's Eve red carpet gala. 

More:For Trump, being a Florida resident is easy. But will N.Y. let go?

For locals, the 12-day visit will likely be the last time roads will be closed along South Ocean Boulevard, the motorcade route to and from Palm Beach International Airport, Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

After he leaves office, South Ocean near Mar-a-Lago will no longer be closed when the former president visits his private club, according to the source. Trump and first lady Melania Trump have declared Mar-a-Lago their legal residence and are expected to live at the club with their teenage son Baron.

However, some neighbors don't want the first family to live at the club and have gone public with their dispute. On Tuesday, West Palm Beach attorney Reginald G. Stambaugh sent a letter to Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio and the Town Council laying out the legal reasons and security concerns that he said should bar Trump from living at his private club.

More:Mar-a-Lago neighbors say Trump forfeited right to live on estate once presidency ends

According to Stambaugh, Trump has violated an agreement he entered into with the town after lengthy, contentious meetings in 1993 over his commitment to preserve the 18-acre estate if the town allowed him to turn Mar-a-Lago into a club.

Traffic backs up on South Ocean Boulevard as President Donald Trump's motorcade returns to Mar-a-Lago during a recent visit. {BRUCE R. BENNETT/palmbeachpost.com}

Coniglio also received a fax from a new organization expressing similar concerns. "We don't want you to be our neighbor and break our laws," read the letter from the group calling itself The Palm Beach Committee.

Trump has made more than 30 presidential visits to Mar-a-Lago since his inauguration, and the closure of a half-mile stretch of South Ocean Boulevard has been especially difficult for neighbors and service workers who have been required to clear a Secret Service checkpoint to get to their homes.

Because South Ocean is the only thoroughfare along that stretch of the island, no other road could serve as a detour — meaning going from the north end of the island to the south required crossing a bridge to West Palm Beach.