Tri-state residents were riveted by images of trapped Chilean miners being brought to safety Wednesday, expressing relief and amazement as the men emerged, with the dramatic rescue broadcast around the world.
The 33 miners had been trapped more than 2,000 feet underground for 69 days. The rescue struck a chord with people around the globe, and in the New York area, many watched the events unfold on television and livestreams, sending emails, tweets and text messages as each successful rescue was completed.
Images of the miner rescue could be seen on several televisions inside the San Antonio Bakery and Cafe in Valley Stream, Long Island, which is home to a large Chilean community.
Patrons stopped and watched as they purchased empanadas, fritas and the cafe's specialty, Chilean hot dogs. One woman dabbed tears from her eyes. Others shook their heads in amazement.
One man, Christian Illanes, wore a t-shirt, which read "FU3RZA MIN3RS.
The threes, refer to the number 33, or the numbers of miners and "fuerza" means strength in Spanish, and Illanes said the idea being conveyed is: "Be strong miners. All Chile and NY wait for them."
"Last night, I called my mother in Chile," Illanes said, "And my mother cried, saying this is very emotional. We are so happy the world has stayed with Chile in this moment."
Chilean native Lorena Ramnarine said, "It's a miracle to me. Amazing. Tragedies unite Chile. We have a lot of strength and we come out of difficult situations, very strong."
"It shows everyone that there's always hope," said a tearful Margarita Pena Flores. "When I saw that kid running to his father after he came up through the hole- that was something I will never forget."
Around the tri-state, people in bars and restaurants sat glued to TV sets Tuesday night as the first cheering and clapping as the miners emerged. At the Chilean restaurant Pomaire, in Midtown, a normal Tuesday night was transformed when patrons sat glued to the televisions, watching and hugging as the rescue played out. On the streets of Times Square, New Yorkers said they were moved by the story.
“It was wonderful to see that man come out,” Margaret Johnson said while walking with her daughter near Broadway. Another man in Times Square said, "They really didn’t look that bad either, for 69 days down there... They looked real good.”
At about 9 p.m. on Wednesday, the last of the 33 miners was rescued in a problem-free operation in the Chile's Atacama desert -- a drama that saw the world captivated by the miners' endurance and unity as officials meticulously prepared their rescue.
Remarkable communications technology -- including live video from within the mine -- turned the entire world into a global village hoping for the safe release of men they did not know and would probably never meet.
New Yorkers have been glued to their televisions watching the drama unfold, and local experts believes we are viewing for primeval reasons.
"I think the idea of being trapped underground captures anyone's imagination. It taps into our worst fears," Dr. Alan Hifler, Chief Psychologist at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn.
But he also believes that there is a spirit of hope in the story of the miners.
"We're looking these days at so much fighting between countries that the idea of all these nations coming together has everybody enthusiastic and excited," said Hifler.
"This whole planet is coming together to help," said Jose Brown, of the Bronx. "Two months underground? Its a miracle."