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Crowds cheer as shuttle Endeavour inches down Manchester Boulevard

October 13, 2012 |  7:50 am

 

Endeavour slowly moved past Inglewood City Hall about 6:40 a.m. Saturday.

Crowds mingled to the west of the shuttle as it inched down Manchester Boulevard. As the shuttle passed City Hall, the crowd erupted in cheers and began snapping photos.

Music blared from parked cars and people tried to figure out the best way to catch up with the 170,000-pound spacecraft as it made its way down the street toward its final resting spot at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

Before dawn, about 5:50 a.m., ranchera music wafted onto Manchester Boulevard. Sitting outside with his friends, Joel Portillo said he'd been camped out since 4 p.m. Friday. Others arrived earlier, he said.

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour's jaunt across L.A.

The 50-year-old Inglewood resident said he got some bad information and thought the shuttle was supposed to pass his business, Festival Travel, on Friday.

When he learned the shuttle wouldn't arrive until Saturday morning, he stayed, passing the night with conversation, music and tequila, he said.

"This is history" he said. "You cannot miss it."

Donning a black and white checkered scarf, Portillo walked from the adjacent driveway -- where friends, wrapped in blankets, sat or dozed in the early morning hours -- to his business a few steps away.

TIMELINE: Endeavour's route through Los Angeles

Opening the door to Festival Travel, he peered into a room illuminated by a silent television. His two nephews and son slept on the floor in blankets.

"We have a bunch of kids sleeping," he said. "But when the shuttle passes we are going to wake them up."

"They are excited," he said.

PHOTOS: Endeavour rolls through the streets of L.A.

Because the shuttle needs every millimeter of space for clearance, Los Angeles police said they planned to close most sidewalks along Saturday's route. However, officials said this week that some may be opened along the way for public viewing.

After crawling up Crenshaw Boulevard, the shuttle will reach Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard around 2 p.m. A celebration is planned by choreographer Debbie Allen.

Public safety officials have said the area will accommodate a few thousand people at most, so those interested in seeing Endeavour should arrive early.

The final tricky move will be along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Pines planted in honor of the slain civil rights leader were deemed too significant to cut down, as many were along the transport route, and because the trees dot both sides of the roadway, the shuttle will pivot -- crab-like -- to avoid any mishaps.

"Don't think of the shuttle going nose-first down every street," said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman. "That shuttle has the ability to zigzag and maneuver, and that's what you're going to see along that route. There may be places where the shuttle is going sideways at an angle."

The final chance to see the shuttle will be along Bill Robertson Lane as it approaches the science center's Samuel Oschin display pavilion in Exposition Park about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Police said four parking lots between Bill Robertson and Vermont Avenue will be available to the public.

However, officials were hoping that the shuttle could arrive ahead of schedule, before sunset, which occurs at 6:20 p.m. Saturday.

ALSO:

Space shuttle Endeavour successfully crosses 405 Freeway

Endeavour: Where to spot the shuttle as it crawls through L.A.

Endeavour readied for its Hollywood closeup in Toyota commercial

-- Andrew Khouri and Marisa Gerber

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