Pope Francis is now in the United States. Saturday morning, he will be arriving in Philadelphia and the signs are defiantly anticipating his arrival. In center city, huge television screens are set up. In fact, 37 jumbotrons have been placed around the area to afford everyone with a view of the pope. Ugly fencing is being erected near city hall, to keep people back. It is not a channeling device, it is a control device. It stands about nine feet tall, with a dark mesh screen. People stuck behind it will not be able to see the pope clearly at all. The city will disappoint people without tickets that want to get close to the pope for the mass. Today, September 22, 2015, the World Meeting of Families opened at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
In fact those without a ticket will not be able to see the pope do his mass in person on the parkway. at all. With risers, fences and huge crowds in front, it will be a waste of time. You will be watching on the monitors. The only hope that people can see the pope without a ticket is to stake out a good spot and watch him during the parade. There, with the route taking him past city hall on Saturday, thousands of people will be able to see him, if only for a brief couple of minutes. The city management has told repeatedly that food and water will be allowed in to the secure zones. For those that do not want to bring their own, Aramark has the contract. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said “I am not sure how they will be set up” meaning will they service the hundreds of thousands of people without tickets?
Common sense must prevail here. A person with a ticket is able to ask someone to hold their seat while they go to the bathroom or get food. A person without a ticket is not going to want to chance missing the pope by going to the bathroom or a food vendor. They are also not going to jeopardize their spot by having to fight the crowd to get back in to it. The city has set up thousands of portable toilets in the area. Food vendors must be plentiful near this area to encourage folks to eat and not walk too far for a restroom break.
No Parking signs have gone up. Parking tickets will be issued and vehicles towed if a vehicle is found to be parked in one of these zones. Parking tickets will not be issued for meters on Friday through Sunday. So if you have a spot at a meter it is free. A spot in front of a fire plug will get you towed. Parking too close to a corner can get you ticketed. Schools are closed from Wednesday Sept 23, 2015 until Tuesday September 29, 2015.
Bootleg t shirt vendors are hawking their wares near the convention center and also on the Parkway. Official souvenirs are available but they are expensive. After the visit, expect the price to come down. WAWA has delivered a million bottles of water and they are placed on the area where crowds will gather to see the pope. That water will be free. Tickets to see the pope are free but people are still trying to sell them online. Mayor Michael Nutter called that “Trifling.”. The food sold by Aramark will be high priced and of the same quality you get at a ballpark.
The city has not given any set times for the parades that will take place. This is hurting those folks that want to plan and cannot wait until the last minute.
Inside the World Meeting of families exhibit , people can see and hear religious speakers, there is a marketplace to buy t shirts, books and other things. Then there is the Museum of the Bible exhibit, where you can see ancient scrolls and learn about the Bible. People coming to see the pope that think they are going to grab a selfie with him and shake his hand will be dissapointed. People without a ticket that think they will see him with binoculars and not on a tv screen will be dissapointed. However folks that go to hear his message in person and be a part of the experience, just may catch a fleeting glimpse of the pontiff. For them, it will all have been worth it. If you go, bring money, patience and a camera. Leave back packs and selfie sticks at home. you will not be permitted into the secure area with them.