MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The people of New York opened their arms to Pope Francis in a way never seen.
An estimated 80,000 people were inside Central Park to see the pope Friday afternoon. In order to be one of those lucky ones, they had to win a lottery.
Getting a prime spot to see the pope required getting up early and waiting for hours for New Yorkers who said they came from every part of town.
“How were you able to get such a great spot,” asked CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez.
“It was work. We all had to work. We all got here super early,” said the woman.
One woman said she had to get there at 2:30 a.m., another at 4:00 a.m.
The pope’s visit to the 9/11 memorial for a service touched many New Yorkers who say he feels the pain that they suffered 14 years ago.
Rodriguez asked, “What do you think about him going to the 9/11 memorial?”
“I think it’s wonderful. It should never be forgotten. That’s why I’m wearing the scarf today because I bought it the day of ground zero and we have to stand together as Americans and know that every life is precious,” said one woman.
Safety precautions taken included 8-foot fences along Central Park South. That meant that when the pope was going through the park, people could see him but there was no way to get through the gates.
Those who were able to get close, had to go through metal detectors and have a ticket won from the lottery.
Another woman who said she lives across the street from the park said, “it’s really inconvenient but it is what it is…we’re happy that he’s here.”
T-shirt vendors weren’t complaining and neither were the people who sat along the sidewalk on Columbus Circle, hoping for a glimpse of the pope.
One family came all the way from the Philippines to see him, saying the pontiff is very popular in their country.
Aside from being able to see him, others supported the pope’s message.
“Very social and I love his way of thinking,” said one woman.
Some of the things others liked about him is Pope Francis’ message of leading a simple life, of being tolerant to others, of being tolerant to same-sex couples and his open-mindedness.
Amid all the commotion over the pope Friday, a couple also got married, taking their wedding photos before more people than they ever imagined.
“We had it planned first,” said the bride jokingly.
Click here for complete coverage of the pope’s visit.