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Glenn Spectators Hoot, Clap for Joy

October 29, 1998

TITUSVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Spectators watching John Glenn’s launch into orbit hooted and clapped for joy, burst into tears and hugged each other today as space shuttle Discovery lifted off into a cloudless sky.

Melanie Redler, 46, wiped tears from her eyes and then embraced her 7-year-old son, Sam Prince, whom she called ``my future astronaut.″ They had arrived the night before from St. Louis.

``It was the coolest thing I ever saw,″ Sam told his mother as they saw the shuttle rise in the sky.

From a perch on her mother’s shoulders, 8-year-old Hannah DuLac shouted out ``Five! Four! Three! Two! One!″ in sync with the NASA launch commentator, whose voice was broadcast over speakers along the Indian River.

Tears welled up in the eyes of her mother, Colleen DuLac, 31, of Carmel, Ind. ``I knew I was going to cry,″ she said.

A half mile away, Lauren Ray, 14, screamed for joy with about 60 classmates from Brentwood High School in Sandersville, Ga. She balanced a camera in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand so she could talk to her father back in Georgia.

``He could tell me more about what was going because he was watching it on television,″ Lauren said.

NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham estimated there ``may well be a million people watching,″ including residents and visitors.

On roadways connecting the quiet communities surrounding the Kennedy Space Center, from Titusville to Cocoa Beach, vendors sold T-shirts, friends ate breakfast from portable grills and newfound neighbors shared cans of mosquito repellent and bottles of suntan lotion.

Beach blankets, lawn chairs, colorful umbrellas and camera tripods were lined up in waves along the Indian River. Portable toilets were judiciously placed along roadways. Lot owners along Route 1 whose properties had a view of the launch pad charged as much as $50 for vehicles to park.

Elaine Dunford and her friend, Maizie Nichols, had scouted out the area the day before and decided to watch the launch from the parking lot of Paul’s Smokehouse.

``The $20 is worth it for the clean bathroom facilities,″ said Ms. Dunford, who traveled from near Toronto to watch the launch.

As with any property, the three rules of the roadside real estate were location, location, location. And location this time meant a clear, unobstructed view of launch pad 39B, several miles away.

``We wanted this view,″ said Sue Flynn outside the trailer attached to her car along State Road 528, overlooking the Banana River. Orange lights from the launch pad gleamed in the distance.

Mrs. Flynn and her husband, Bill, arrived more than 24 hours early from their home near Tampa because they feared missing a prime viewing spot.

``We got on the NASA Web page yesterday and it said we should already be here,″ she said.

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