Obama's neighborhood

President Barack Obama greets people outside one of his campaign offices in the Hyde Park neighborhood. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / November 6, 2012)

In the Kenwood neighborhood,  President Barack Obama's neighbors went about their daily business today -- voting, running errands, and entertaining children who were off from school – as presidential security teams and an international news corps descended on their corner of the city.

And the president went about his usual business on an election day: He played basketball with his buddies.

In 2008, Obama played basketball with aides before winning the kickoff Iowa caucuses. The president and his aides decided to make the games an Election Day tradition after they lost the next contest — the New Hampshire primary — on a day when they didn't hit the court.

Around 1 p.m., Obama's motorcade arrived at the Hope Athletic Center on the West Side where the president played basketball with staff and friends.  A White House spokeswoman said he played with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Reggie Love, Mike Ramos, Marty Nesbitt, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, Obama's brother-in-law Craig Robinson, and others.

Alexi Giannoulias' Twitter account said he was also playing. He tweeted that he was on a team with Obama and former Bulls Scottie Pippen and Randy Brown.

After basketball, Obama headed back to his South Side home, where he is expected to eat dinner with family tonight before heading to McCormick Place for a rally.

Malia and Sasha Obama, the president's daughters, were flying to Chicago on Tuesday afternoon after attending classes at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, an aide to first lady Michelle Obama said.

Both Chicago born, Malia, 14, is a 9th grader, Sasha, 11, is a 6th grader at the Quaker school -- an exclusive school with a demanding curriculum.

When the president and first lady arrived in Chicago at 12:17 a.m. Tuesday to spend Election Day here, the couple stepped off Air Force One at O'Hare International Airport sans their girls.

But the first daughters will be on hand with their parents at McCormick Place on Tuesday night, said Semonti Stephens, a Michelle Obama spokeswoman. The girls are traveling with first grandmother Marian Robinson, the first lady's mother.

No word on whether they'll finish their homework before appearing on stage.

The president also spent some time in and near his South Side neighborhood early today, visiting with supporters at a Hyde Park campaign field office.

Outside Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School, a polling place just a few blocks from Obama's home, reporters nearly outnumbered voters at times.  A van carrying journalists from six West African countries pulled up around 10 a.m., just as a tour bus packed with European reporters was getting ready to leave.

The tour bus driver, Jeff Hankins, 55, a Wisconsin resident, said he had voted early, expecting a 14-hour day. The next stop on the tour: Obama's house – or as close as he could get the bus.

Streets around the president’s home on Greenwood Avenue between 50th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard were blocked off, with Secret Service agents stationed at cement blockades,  checking residents' identification.

Ashley Bumpers, a 25-year-old telemarketer on her way home from casting her vote, approached a blockade at Hyde Park Boulevard and Ellis Avenue, with her driver's license in hand. By now, she said, she is used to the presidential hullaballoo.

Bumpers said she has lived in the Obamas' neighborhood for six years  -- including one day when she went down to find her car and discovered that it had been towed to another parking spot to make way for presidential security.

Bumpers said that while she knows others may be less enthusiastic about this presidential race than they were in 2008, she did not consider staying home on election day this year.

"You have to make sure that you vote," she said, "instead of leaving it in somebody else's hands."

Besides, she said, "I don't want Romney."