BOSTON - A motorcade carrying the body of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy passed miles of mourners Thursday as it proceeded from the Cape Cod home where he spent his final days to the presidential library in Boston bearing the name of one of his slain brothers.
Thousands of spectators gathered in Hyannis Port and Boston, clutching cameras, tissues and at least one flag of Ireland, the Kennedys' ancestral homeland. Motorists stopped their cars on overpasses, hoping to catch a glimpse. Crowds applauded and cheered as the motorcade rolled slowly through Boston.
Virginia Cain, 54, said she walked just under 2 miles from her summer home in Centerville to the roads leading to the Kennedy compound so she could witness history.
'I can remember where I was when President Kennedy died, and I'll remember where I was when the senator left Hyannis Port,' she said.
The late senator's loved ones - including niece Caroline, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, and son Patrick, a Rhode Island congressman - arrived before noon for a private Mass at the family compound in Hyannis Port.
Relatives watched afterward from near the house as the flag-draped casket was loaded into a hearse, then took turns touching the vehicle on the way to their cars. As the motorcade pulled away for the 70-mile trip to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Patrick Kennedy sat in the passenger seat of the hearse, near tears.
The motorcade passed several sites important to the senator on the way to the library, which he helped develop and where he will lie in repose until today, a Senate office statement said. By mid-afternoon, more than 100 people waited for the public viewing to begin at 6 p.m.
Ellen Freed, 58, of Brookline, arrived about 2:30 p.m. Freed, who is disabled because of epilepsy, credits Kennedy for her federally assisted housing.
'I live in a HUD building, and if it wasn't for Ted Kennedy, I would be homeless,' she said.
James Jenner, a 28-year-old culinary student from Boston, placed the Red Sox cap he was wearing outside, where other mourners had left flowers, small American flags and a stuffed teddy bear with angel wings.
'It was Teddy's home team,' Jenner said. 'It just seemed appropriate to leave him the cap. It symbolizes everything that he loved about his home state and everything he was outside the Senate.'
Trudy Murray, 86, a native of Ireland who later lived in England, said Kennedy helped her and her family get visas when they moved to the United States in 1969.
'I loved Ted Kennedy. I cried yesterday when I put on the TV and saw that he had passed away,' said Murray, a retired nurse who now lives in Brockton.