Boston: Edward Kennedy`s body lay in state at his beloved hometown of Boston for the second day on Friday, as huge crowds kept pouring in to bid a final farewell to the legendary senator.
The flag-draped coffin remained open for public viewing until 2:00 am (0600 GMT) after thousands of people lined up for hours outside the John F Kennedy Presidential Library that the man locals knew simply as "Teddy" had built to honour his slain brother.
Within an hour of the line opening to the public on the first of two days of wake Thursday, 12,000 people had come to pay their respects to the liberal "lion of the Senate," a number that nearly doubled in the late-night hours, Kennedy`s office said.
Young, old, black, white and the handicapped made up the diverse throng, all of them waiting patiently.
As night fell, Kennedy`s widow, Vicki, was among family members who stood by the coffin and shook the hands of the public.
"We just wanted to pay our respects and say thanks for all he has done," one mourner, Trisha McLaughlin, 40, said as she pushed her 80-year-old mother forward in a wheelchair.
The body of Kennedy, who was to be eulogised by President Barack Obama before being buried on Saturday, began its final journey on Thursday in the Cape Cod resort of Hyannis Port.
The coffin departed the sleepy town in a hearse escorted by a convoy of police, black limousines and a bus carrying 85 Kennedy family members.
When the motorcade arrived in Boston, cheers and clapping from well-wishers broke out.
At City Hall, a huge US flag was unfurled and Mayor Thomas Menino rang a bell 47 times, marking each of the years that the Democratic Party giant, who died late Tuesday aged 77, served in the Senate.
Office workers leaned out of windows and some even watched from rooftops.
Winding through Boston, the capital of the Kennedy clan`s political fiefdom, the motorcade finally halted at the JFK library, where the closed coffin was placed before an enormous window overlooking Boston Harbour.
A military honour guard of five servicemen stood to attention, bayonets fixed, as mourners filed past and expressed condolences to the family.
Following public viewing on Friday, a private memorial service will be held at the library, where family, friends and politicians were to celebrate a life marked by extraordinary personal tragedy, shocking scandals and political triumphs.
On Saturday, a funeral Mass will take place at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston before Kennedy`s remains taken to Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, for a private family burial alongside his assassinated brothers.
The brother of slain president John F Kennedy and presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy, Ted Kennedy was seen as the last leader of his political clan.
"Not everybody agreed with the Kennedys` politics, but I think everyone appreciated their service and their spirit," said 74-year-old Nadine Basta, a Kennedy neighbour in Hyannis Port.
Gary McHenry, a 49-year-old dairy farmer from Northern Ireland, praised Kennedy`s "pivotal role" in helping broker the peace process in Northern Ireland.
"He was a man of peace. As an Irishman with a young family, to live in peaceful times -- it`s something we`re very grateful for," said McHenry, who was on holiday in Boston, but came to follow the procession from the start.
Kennedy`s death also brought together politicians from America`s great political divide as Republican rivals and Democrats alike paid tribute to Kennedy`s relentless campaigning for the causes of peace and social welfare.