If you were on the proverbial fence about joining the hundreds of thousands of people in Philadelphia during Pope Francis’ visit this month, the invitation just got sweeter.
Two papal parades will allow virtually every onlooker a glimpse of the pope as he passes by along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, site of the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 and the papal Mass Sept. 27.
In addition, 30,000 tickets are being made available to people throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond who wish to get good lines of sight on the parkway for the historic events.
Those two new developments emerged in a press conference with Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, Sept. 3 at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Philadelphia.
Farrell fielded questions from local media for an hour, reflecting a growing chorus of concerns by residents and visitors over difficulty accessing the papal events. The new initiatives, long in the planning but only announced Wednesday, may help alleviate the fears that potential participants may have over transportation, security and access to events.
A sticking point for many was the introduction of tickets for parkway events that had previously been touted as unticketed.
“We hear what their concerns are, but it’s going to be OK,” Farrell said. “We’re sorry people were concerned. We totally get it — everybody wants to see the pope.”
The addition of 10,000 tickets for the Festival of Families, 10,000 for the papal Mass and 10,000 for the pope’s address at Independence Hall on Saturday should help broaden access for people who want to witness the papal events in person, Farrell added.
Tickets to the Independence Hall address will be available online only at worldmeeting2015.org beginning at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 8, on a first-come, first-served basis. A maximum of four per person will be distributed.
The tickets to Saturday’s and Sunday’s events on the parkway will be available on the website starting Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The parade by Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon will take him from Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art down the parkway from 24th Street all the way to City Hall at Broad and Market Streets, then back again.
The roughly two-mile course each way will enable people within the secure zone along the parkway and those beyond it hearer city Hall to see the pope on Saturday before the start of the 5 p.m. Festival of Families, a cultural and musical celebration that will include an address by the pope.
The following day he will embark on another parade on the parkway, but this one on a shorter route to ensure the 4 p.m. Mass at Eakins Oval begins on time.
While officials did not confirm Pope Francis would travel in the popemobile, he had done so to greet crowds as recently as his July visit to Ecuador. In that visit he used a converted Jeep Wrangler, painted white of course. The Vatican confirmed several popemobiles had already been shipped to the United States.
Once the pope settles in to the staging area at Eakins Oval, people in much of center city and particularly the Francis Festival zone will be able to watch all the events on large, elevated Jumbotron TV screens at 40 locations. They include:
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway Stage Left (South side of Eakins Oval)
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway Stage Right (North side of Eakins Oval)
- 24th Street and Park Towne Place
- Binswanger Triangle (near Eakins Oval, South Side)
- Binswanger Triangle (near Eakins Oval, North Side)
- Von Colln Field South West
- Von Colln Field North West
- 19th and Spring Garden Streets
- Spring Garden Street between 16th and 17th Streets
- Broad and Green Streets
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway between Oval and 22nd (West) Street
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway between Oval and 22nd (East) Street
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 22nd and 21st Streets
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 21st Street
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Winter Street (on triangle grass area)
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Winter Street (corner)
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 20th Street
- Logan Square and 20th Street
- Logan Square and 19th Street
- Logan Square and 18th Street
- Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 17th Street
- John F. Kennedy Boulevard and 16th Street
- Arch Street and 15th Street
- Municipal Services Building Plaza (Southwest)
- Municipal Services Building Plaza (East)
- City Hall – Market Street East
- Sansom Street (East of Broad Street)
- Broad and Spruce Streets
- Broad and Lombard Streets
- Broad and Wood Streets
- Independence Hall Stage Left (North of Chestnut)
- Independence Hall Stage Left (Block One Center)
- Independence Hall Stage Right(Block One Center)
- Independence Hall Stage Left (Block Two Center)
- Independence Hall Stage Right(Block Two Center)
- Independence Hall Block Two Center
- Independence Hall Block Three South
- 5th Street, North of Chestnut Street
- Franklin Square (Northwest Corner)
Before he arrives, people will have preceded him by many hours, on both days. People with tickets will have passed through checkpoints into the secure zone, from 20th street west to Eakins Oval, on the parkway at the following locations:
- Pennsylvania Avenue at the intersection of North 23rd Street and Spring Garden Street
- North 22nd Street at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street
- Hamilton Street between North 21st and North 22nd Streets
- 21st Street between Hamilton Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
- North 20th Street at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Callowhill Street
- North 20th Street at Race Street
- North 21st Street at Winter Street
People without tickets into the parkway area will need to go through checkpoints east of 20th Street to City Hall at the following locations on Saturday:
- North 15th Street at Cherry Street
- North Broad Street at Cherry Street
- South Broad Street at Chestnut Street
- South 15th Street at Chestnut Street
- South 17th Street at Market Street
- South 17th Street at John F. Kennedy Boulevard
On Sunday, people without tickets should use these checkpoint locations:
- North 19th Street at Wood Street
- North 18th Street at Cherry Street
- North 19th Street at Cherry Street
A number of personal items will not be allowed into the secure zone, among them bicycles, hard-surface coolers, balloons and backpacks larger than 18 by 13 by seven inches.
Some questions remain, such as bicycle access as a transportation alternative, whether parking may become available for those who attempt to drive and the locations for distribution of holy Communion during the papal Mass. But as the events draws nearer, their details are beginning to catch up with the excitement that has been building among people for most of the past year.
Whatever the number of attendees is tallied after the pope returns to Rome, residents will reflect for years on what Farrell predicted would be “a transformational experience for the city of Philadelphia.”