New Yorkers will flock to see Pope Francis by the tens of thousands Friday, and those set to experience the pontiff in person are sure they'll retain something lasting and meaningful from his presence.
About 40,000 New Yorkers won two tickets to see the papal motorcade through Central Park, before Mass at Madison Square Garden Friday night.
"3-D is better than 2-D," said Lakiya Burrell, 32, of Washington Heights, who will be attending the Central Park celebration with her mother. "I view him as a holy presence, so it means the closer I am, the more powerful an experience it will be."
Burrell said she's most affected by the pope's work with the poor and his message of inclusiveness. The schoolteacher said her fellow Catholics haven't been this excited about a pontiff in memory, and she expects a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in the park.
Chantal McLaughlin, a freelance writer in Morningside Heights who is also attending the Central Park event, said Francis' visit to New York is especially meaningful because of the city's unparalleled diversity.
"Everyone's first visit to New York is memorable and I hope he'll be impressed with the people, the park, the city's architecture and its history," she said.
Joseph Mattiello, 19, a junior at Fordham University who will be attending the Central Park celebration with his girlfriend, said he isn't too worried about the packed crowds or transportation logistics.
"This is going to be a civil and religious event," the East Norwich native said. "I'm going to be OK waiting outside with everyone."