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Gov. Deval Patrick left the Massachusetts State House for the last time as governor Wednesday.
Patrick took the traditional "lone walk" from his office through the State House and down the red-carpeted front steps of the state capitol, pausing for the national anthem and a thunderous 19-gun salute.
At the bottom of the stairs, he greeted members of his political team before meeting his wife, Diane. The two embraced and got into Patrick's official state car. He paused momentarily on the running board of the car for a final wave, before the car drove away with hundreds of supporters cheering from both sides of Beacon Street.
"We love you! We'll miss you!" one woman yelled.
The walk followed a private meeting with incoming Republican Gov.-elect Charlie Baker and caps Patrick's last full day in office.
The meeting with Baker was steeped in pomp and circumstance, including the exchange of four traditional symbols of the top political office.
"It's been a great run." Patrick told reporters hours before the walk. "We've had a really productive eight years. I'm proud of the record. I'm proud of the foundation that we are leaving for the next administration and how smooth the transition has been, but I'm also ready to have my life back."
Baker and his wife, Lauren, arrived at the State House in the late afternoon for the meeting with Patrick and his wife.
Baker said he was looking forward to taking office.
"I'm pretty excited, but of course I'm nervous," he said.
The meeting included the exchange of four traditional symbols between outgoing and incoming chief executives: The original Pewter Key to the door of the governor's office; The Butler Bible, so named because it was first left by Gov. Benjamin Butler to his successor in 1884; The Governor's Gavel, dating to 1906 and made from the white oak frame of the original U.S.S. Constitution; and a two-volume copy of Massachusetts General Statutes, dating to 1860.
During the ceremonial exit from the State House, Patrick and Baker paused for a moment together at the door of the executive suite. The Democrat could be heard thanking Baker. Patrick then stopped to shake the hand of his former lieutenant governor, Tim Murray, before continuing his walk.
He stopped periodically within the building to greet a variety of people including staff, military veterans, clergy members and community leaders.
He exited through the rarely-used central doors and descended down the front steps.
Patrick is still governor — his term won't expire until Baker, who lost to Patrick in the 2010 governor's race, is sworn in at noon on Thursday. As was the case with most other departing governors, Patrick won't attend his successor's inauguration.
Patrick said he plans to jet off with his wife to a warm vacation spot on Thursday.
He said one of the defining moments of his tenure came in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.
"Everybody, folks in and out of government, private citizens and officials brought their A-game," he said. "That sense that we have a stake in each other and that we can bring out our best and do well by it is a lasting lesson."
He said one of his regrets is that property taxes in the state remain high, creating pressure on elderly homeowners and those on fixed incomes. During his first campaign for governor, he promised to work to lower the taxes.
The state's first black governor, Patrick has not yet revealed any specific plans upon leaving office, beyond a return to the private sector.
He has ruled out seeking the White House in 2016, but has acknowledged that he might consider a presidential bid in the future.
Asked what he'd be thinking when he walks down the Statehouse steps in the frigid air, Patrick joked that he'll be keeping an eye out for patches of ice to avoid any slips.
Patrick also said he's looking forward to getting out of the fishbowl of state government, including the constant presence of his security detail.
"Going to the grocery store without a state trooper, I'm kind of looking forward to that," he said.
Associated Press writer Steve LeBlanc contributed to this report.
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