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Why Flock To The Papal Parade? Hope & Love Take Many Shapes

Crowds gather in the early morning hours near the eastern entrance of the Ellipse for the papal parade.

Eager people from all around the world packed the National Mall in Washington on Wednesday in hopes of seeing Pope Francis. The papal parade, the only nonticketed event on the docket for the pope's visit to the nation's capital, drew tens of thousands of people.

Many pope-watchers expected pandemonium along the 20-minute-long route, but instead they were greeted by a mellow, loving crowd that used words such as "humbling" and "compassionate" to describe the pontiff. Pope Francis received thunderous applause as he stopped the procession to kiss babies and even bless a young girl who managed to get outside the police barricade. He traveled in a modified Jeep Popemobile, open on both sides to allow unobstructed views.

Why brave the throngs of people and the early morning alarm to see the pope? We asked some of the spectators why they came and what makes the pope special to them.

Vesta Partovi contributed to this report.

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