(Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
The steady, gray rain could not keep Maria Rota from standing alone this morning on Tremont Street, bundled in a red hooded raincoat and clutching a sign that said: "Kennedy.Thanks."
And rain did not deter Kathy Hanson, 64, a retired actuary from the South End who donned a waterproof running suit and umbrella so she could stand on a street corner while the funeral procession passed.
"Doesn't bother me," Hanson said of the rain, evoking one of Kennedy's passions. "I'm a sailor, too."
Perhaps Anita Harrison, 47, put it best as she stood near the basilica in Mission Hill and clutched a photograph of her family with Senator Edward M. Kennedy from the Million Mom March.
"If there had been a blizzard," Harrison said. "I would have been here."
Hundreds lined the five-mile route along the funeral procession, from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Dorchester to the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill. They came to say one final good-bye to their senator, a man many had never met.
In the red rain coat on Tremont Street, Rota spent 3 1/2 hours Thursday waiting in line to file past the senator's casket at the library, but she wanted to come again.
"I just wanted to say think you and bear witness to a great American," said Rota of Milton. "A courageous leader and person who made such a proud difference to so many people's lives."
Three charter buses carrying dignitaries arrived at the security checks on Tremont Street in Roxbury Crossing at 8:40 a.m. A clutch of several dozen people had gathered along street, many carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats.
"I had to come out,” said Shona Jackson, a 41-year-old office assistant from Malden, who had never met the senator. “I went to the library on Thursday before he arrived, but I just had to be here.”
Cinde Warmington traveled 2 1/2 hours from Gilford, N.H. She carried a green poster that said, "Keep the dream alive, health care for all."
“Long ago, I said I would be here to stand by the road,” said Warmington, a health care attorney. “He fought for health care and that’s what we need. I wish he could have been alive to see health care reform happen.”
"The Kennedys are Massachusetts royalty," said Joe Davis, 49, of Roxbury, who also attended the wake at the library. "They were raised having the people in mind."
From South Boston, Gregg Donovan brought his 2-year-old son, Andrew, barefoot and in pajamas to stand on the street, pointing as the motorcade rumbled by.
"We're going to witness history," Donovan said. "At least I can tell him later on that he was here."
On Tremont Street, three bomb sniffing dogs -- two German shepherds and a Labrador -- did their work.
Standing under a tree near Massachusetts Avenue, Pedro N. Cuenca wore a tan newspaperman's hat and a trench coat. Cuenca is editor of La Semana, a weekly Spanish language newspaper in Boston that devoted its most recent cover to a picture of the three Kennedy brothers -- Ted, Bobby, and Jack. The headline read: "Together Again."
“I want to thank him for all that he has done and try to continue his inspiration for years to come," Cuenca said.
As President Obama's motorcade passed Melnea Cass Boulevard, Martha Smith, 70, stood and beamed with a melancholy pride.
"I'm proud of my town and of the Kennedys," said Smith, who grew up in Roxbury and now lives in Bedford. "The Kennedys were never afraid of Roxbury and the urban area. This is a tribute to Roxbury. If the highest dignitaries are not afraid, why should the citizens be?
"I'm proud of it, I'm proud to have lived to see the Kennedys. I'm proud to have seen Obama."
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