BRISBANE, Australia – Some 3,000 grieving fans, hundreds of whom camped on the street overnight, were rewarded Friday with tickets to next week's public memorial service for "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.
The free tickets were distributed at three locations across Irwin's home state of Queensland, and were snapped up within about 15 minutes.
Melissa Power, a 34-year-old beautician, was at the front of the line in the state capital, Brisbane, and had tears in her eyes when she finally got her ticket.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "I haven't slept and am so overemotional — I'm looking so forward to it."
Thousands lined up for tickets outside Irwin's Australia Zoo. Some burst into tears after the tickets ran out.
The public service for Irwin will be held Wednesday at the "Crocoseum" amphitheater on the grounds of the Australia Zoo, and will be a "celebration of his life, not a sad funeral," his father, Bob, told reporters last week.
Irwin was killed Sept. 4 when he was pierced in the chest by a stingray's barb while filming a new TV show off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief around the world and in Queensland, where tens of thousands of fans turned out to lay flowers, candles and messages of support outside Australia Zoo.
Although larger venues for the public event had been suggested, Irwin's American-born wife, Terri, said her husband would have wanted the service held at the Crocoseum.
Terri Irwin and the couple's 8-year-old daughter, Bindi, are to speak at the service, along with Bob Irwin and his close friend and manager, John Stainton, the family said.