As sun rises, hundreds gather in Westchester to see Endeavour
Early morning light bathed Endeavour's weathered body in a pink glow Friday morning as more than 500 people, many from the neighborhood, gathered in a Westchester parking lot to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle on the first leg of its final journey.
A chattering crowd of hundreds converged at the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and La Tijera Boulevard. As the sun began to rise, some thrust phones into the air to snap a picture. Others stood on stepladders and folding chairs, hunting for any elevation gain that would give them a better view.
Other crowds spilled into local businesses along Sepulveda Boulevard, including a Coffee Co. facing south toward the shuttle’s parking spot. Owner Gus Kazemi, 56, pulled tables off a raised concrete platform at the entrance to the café, where more than two dozen people leaned over the metal railings toward the shuttle.
“I feel like a part of a larger community, not just the United States,” said Matthew Lucy, 34, who gathered with his wife, Katinka, and daughters Sofia, 6, and Madeleine, 4, inside the Coffee Co. café.
The shuttle will continue east down Manchester, passing into Inglewood city limits at Glasgow Avenue, where it will again stop for several hours for more power line work. There, crews will also move the orbiter onto the dolly system that will tow it over the 405 Freeway beginning about 10 p.m. Friday.
As the crowd grew, onlookers stayed quiet and orderly behind the police barricades erected to create a boundary for the shuttle. Officials said the crowd had been orderly all night, but are concerned that as more people arrive during the day, the sizes could get unmanageable.
Sidewalks will remain closed for much of the remaining route, said Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Bowman.
“We just said, ‘Let’s keep it open, let people enjoy it,’ but we may not have that opportunity again,” Bowman said.
Many people wore hoodies and pajamas. Parents held hands with children wearing school uniforms and backpacks, stopping to see the shuttle on the way to school.
“When else do you get to see something like this in your own backyard?” said Jennie DiPaolo, 49, whose two sons, Luke and Matthew, were wearing red St. Anastasia Catholic School sweat shirts. “We can go see it in the museum, but this is our neighborhood. We drive by here every day.”
-- Christine Mai-Duc and Andrew Khouri in Westchester
Photo: Folks gathered on the corner of Westchester Parkway and McConnell Avenue on Friday to see the space shuttle Endeavour leaving LAX for the streets of Westchester. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.