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Pope inspires local followers

With pillows in tow, a quiet crowd of people lined up early Sunday morning in the Bishop Grimes High School parking lot to fill up their bus heading to New York City. In six hours, they would be at Yankee Stadium -- not to watch a baseball game, but rather to witness Pope Benedict XVI during his first visit to the United States. He was scheduled to celebrate Mass that afternoon, culminating a six-day stay before heading back to Rome, Italy.

The general mood at the bus stop was nothing out of the ordinary, and so too were the reasons for going.

"[To get] a closer understanding," said Alyssa Lemmerann of Baldwinsville, who attends the Basilica in Syracuse.

"[To get] some enrichment," said Anthony Lambert of Syracuse, a St. Daniels parishioner.

"To be inspired," said Ellen Romano of Liverpool, an active member of Christ the King Church.

The event, however, was anything but ordinary. Nearly 60,000 faithful filled the seats at the famous baseball stadium.

Not one seat was empty, said Dee Gillette, former DeWitt resident who now lives in Liverpool. She traveled with her husband Bob.

"I remember one security guard said to me, 'This is the most people I've ever seen here at one time,'" Gillette said. "'Even sellout games have empty seats because people don't show.'"

All the vendors ran out of food and people waited in lines for what seemed like eternity, she said.

"I think people were very patient and everyone was just very kind to each other because we all knew we were there for one purpose and that it was a good and positive purpose -- to see a great leader of the church," Gillette said. "Normal things that people would be complaining about, I think, all went smoothly and we were just all happy to get in there."

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