BOSTON — Crowds lined sidewalks around a Boston cathedral Thursday, looking for comfort and to lend support as an interfaith service that included remarks by President Barack Obama paid tribute to marathon bombing victims.
Some people stood in line for hours to try to get tickets to the event at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which was open to the public on a first-come, first-service basis.
There was a heavy police presence around the cathedral in the city’s South End and authorities closed nearby streets to traffic.
Some runners from Monday’s marathon were among those who attended the service, and many donned their race jackets for it. Attendees also included a number of Boston nurses who have cared for the wounded since the bombings.
“I think it’s important that we heal as well as those who were affected. I guess sometimes you feel you can’t do a single thing and this is something we can do,” said Beth Anne Stevenson, a Boston Medical Center surgical intensive care unit nurse.
After waiting in line for about two hours, Boston University School of Theology Dean Mary Elizabeth Moore got a ticket to enter the cathedral, which seats about 2,000.
“I’m here to lament and hope and celebrate the first responders and the many people who have done acts of kindness in the last three days,” she said.
Three people died and more than 180 were injured when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon’s finish line Monday.
Thursday’s service included reflections by representatives of Protestant denominations; the Jewish, Muslim and Greek Orthodox faiths; and by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads the Catholic Church in Boston.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also spoke at the service, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed.
First lady Michelle Obama attended the event with the president, but the people who packed the sidewalks in front of the cathedral didn’t catch a glimpse of them entering.
Many in the crowd stuck around even after the church had filled up.
“We wanted to get inside, but the line was just forever, forever, forever,” said David Russo, a 31-year-old resident of Lowell.
Eli Philips, 18, a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a marathon volunteer who wore his race jacket on Thursday, also didn’t get a seat. He said he was still shocked that “something that was euphoric went so bad.”
Ricky Hall, 67, of Cambridge, showed up at 8 a.m. and stayed even after he learned he wouldn’t get inside.
“I came to pay my respects to the victims,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren reflected on the nearly 90-minute tribute after leaving the cathedral.
“The service honored those we lost, it supported those who are injured, but most of all it encourages all of us for the future,” she said.
She said it was a reminder “that in Boston you can knock us down but you can’t knock us out of the race.”
Warren also urged Bostonians not to be afraid, saying first responders would protect the city as authorities worked to bring the person or persons responsible for the attack to justice.
“We are people who are strong and resilient,” the senator said. “We will be vigilant, but we will not be afraid.”