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Pope Francis Greets 80,000 In Historic Procession Through Central Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- At least 80,000 people packed Central Park to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis on his historic 12-block procession Friday evening.

Security was tight as Pope Francis greeted onlookers along Central Park's West Drive between 72nd and 60th streets.

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"I think the people of New York City are welcoming Pope Francis with open arms," Mayor Bill de Blasio told 1010 WINS earlier. "I've been saying that the greatest moral leader in the world coming to the greatest city in the world is a match made in heaven, and you can tell it's true. There's just extraordinary enthusiasm and warmth being directed at Pope Francis."

Pope Francis Greets 80,000 In Historic Procession Through Central Park

The pope's procession didn't start until after 5 p.m., but spectators started lining up early Friday morning. The gates opened at 11 a.m. and ticket holders needed to be at the security gates no later than 3:30 p.m.

"Definitely worth the wait on line," one woman told WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola. "I think God must have helped us get close up because I was in the second row, and I looked into his eyes, and it was like the mirrors of his soul. And I'll never forget that look. Tears came down."

PHOTOS: Pope Francis Procession Through Central Park

"It was amazing. It was beyond surreal," New Yorker Kelly told CBS2's Lou Young. "I stood in line for about 3 1/2 hours, I'd say. So I got in around 1:30, 2 (p.m.), but I didn't get through the gate until about 5:15."

There even seemed to be a rainbow over head.

Diana Torres, of Queens, said finding out that she was among those selected to get tickets was a blessing.

"I want to go so badly, I asked for this, I put my name on it, I prayed on it," she said.

The procession was just one of a laundry list of appearances Pope Francis made in New York City on Friday.

Earlier in the day, he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, led an interfaith service at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and met with children at a Catholic school in East Harlem.

Francis wraps up his day in New York City by celebrating Mass at Madison Square Garden.

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