It was easily the happiest crowd ever at a site where more familiar scenes are bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace" and solemn speeches memorializing the dead during annual anniversary ceremonies.
Guy Madsen drove from his home in New Jersey with his son when he heard of bin Laden's death.
"This is Judgment Day and we're winning," he said.
Farther uptown in Times Square, dozens stood together on the clear spring night and broke into applause when a New York Fire Department sports utility vehicle drove by, flashed its lights and sounded its siren.
A man held an American flag and others sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."
And in Washington, a large group gathered in front of the White House, chanting "USA! USA!" and waving American flags. The throng had filled the street in front and was spilling into Lafayette Park.
Will Ditto, 25, a legislative aide, said he was getting ready to go to bed Sunday night when his mother called him with the news. He decided to leave his home on Capitol Hill and join the crowd. As he rode the subway to the White House, he told fellow passengers the news.
"It's huge," he said. "It's a great day to be an American."
George Washington University student Alex Washofsky, 20, and his roommate Dan Fallon, 20, joined the crowd.
"George Bush said, `Bring him to justice, dead or alive,' and we did it," said Washofsky, a junior and a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The crowd began gathering before President Barack Obama addressed the nation at about 11:30 pm Sunday.
Some people sprinted up on foot to join the crowd. Others arrived on bicycles, and some people brought dogs.
'He's dead, but now what?'
In Dearborn, Michigan, a, heavily Middle Eastern suburb that's home to one of the nation's largest Arab and Muslim communities, a small crowd gathered outside City Hall, chanting "USA" and waving American flags.
Across town, some honked their car horns as they drove along the main street where most of the Arab-American restaurants and shops are located.
At the Arabica Cafe, the big screen TVs that normally show sports were all turned to news about bin Laden.
Cafe manager Mohamed Kobeissi says it's finally justice for those victims.
In Philadelphia, at a game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, chants of "USA! USA!" began in the top of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. Fans could be seen all over the stadium checking their phones and sharing the news.
Shirley Miller watched a headline flip across a monitor in Chicago's O'Hare Airport before her daughter and husband texted her with the same news: Bin Laden was dead.
But for the 42-year-old Miller, whose son has deployed twice to Afghanistan following 9/11, the news didn't soothe worries that bin Laden's death could prompt more attacks against the U.S.
"OK. He's dead, but now what?" Miller asked as she flew from Chicago to Little Rock, Arkansas.
"It's kind of scary because you don't know what's going to happen," she said. "It could get worse."
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