(NECN: Greg Wayland) - The day dawned with prayer flags fluttering and a large ceremonial gate standing before the big yellow house on Magoun Avenue in Medford, Mass.
Then came ceremonial dancers to set the mood, along with the devout and curious, some neighbors from the block standing, waiting along a street suddenly sealed off to cars.
"It's the best neighbors you can have," said one person who lives nearby.
And, said one neighbor waiting for a glimpse of the special visitor, "He's been a long time spiritual leader and a peaceful man."
Then finally, among swarms of security, a blessed droning and a prayerful crush - he arrived, the legendary holy man of Tibet, who has been exiled, revered, and at 77, is still lively with humor and fervor for Buddhism's scattered followers the world over.
Here on a Medford, Mass. side street where the 14th Dalai Lama long ago promised to return to the Kura Kulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies after visiting his friend and fellow exile Geshe Ngawang Tenley in 2003. And what did he hope would come from this appearance?
"This I hope to benefit all of the city, our neighbors, our center people, anybody who have good opportunity to see him today," said Tenley.
Meanwhile, the devout, standing along the street to catch a glimpse, were grateful.
"It was worth every minute of our wait today, even though it's a little bit cold," said one man.
"I've never seen anybody so high and like important," said a young boy.
He ultimately entered a massive tent behind the center filled with 1,800 people. He would speak of the warm-heartedness he believes can shields modern souls from familiar horrors.
"Too much frustration, too much stress, too much fear, anger, hatred very, very harmful for physical health," said the Dalai Lama.
And to a small gathering in a prayer center, his own gratitude for his visit.
"So I much appreciate it. All your good will and also support. Thank you very much. Thank you," the Dalai Lama said to warm applause.
And so they'll remember this day forever, these three hours when four centuries of wisdom came to pay a visit, possibly for the last time.