Midland readies to welcome Bush back to Texas

Midland_Eight years ago, this West Texas city hosted a send-off as then-President-elect George W. Bush headed for the White House. The community is now poised for a welcome home celebration.

Bush and his wife, Laura, plan to head to Midland on Tuesday afternoon after the inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

Some city streets have been closed since Friday and almost all of the 20,000 free tickets to the celebration have been handed out.

"The president said at the White House Christmas party that he left from Midland and was coming home to Midland because we're the ones who are his friends and great supporters and he wanted to be with us when he left Washington," County Republican Chairwoman Sue Brannon said in Monday's online edition of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. "It shows what a fine gentleman he is."

As of Monday afternoon, 1,500 free tickets remained for the event which will feature entertainment by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Rodney Atkins and Lee Greenwood.

Former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are expected to be traveling with George W. Bush, but aren't expected to participate in the rally.

Gov. Rick Perry, state Rep. Tom Craddick and Midland Mayor Wes Perry are among those scheduled to speak during the afternoon event.

George W. Bush and his wife expect to make a new home in Texas, having bought an 8,000-square-foot home on a quiet cul-de-sac in a north Dallas neighborhood.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.