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Philadelphia Phreak Out – Popeapocalypse Now

by Suzanne Fluhr on September 1, 2015 · 83 comments

(Updated September 23, 2015)

Did you hear or do you live under a rock? Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia! 

Pope Francis arriving by airplane

Photo: Public Domain

The Pope is visiting Philadelphia! In conjunction with the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia at three public events in Center City on Saturday, September 26th and Sunday, September 27th, 2015.

For months, in drips and drabs, word has come from on high (no, not THAT high Philadelphia City Hall), informing the residents of the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection that there will be complex security arrangements impacting our daily lives during His Holiness’ visit. Mayor Nutter (that’s his real name) wants us to put our big boy/girl pants on. The Mayor explained:

Look, we’re either happy about this or we’re scared out of our mind, but we can’t be both.

Really?  I am concurrently thrilled that World Meeting of Families and the Vatican deemed my home town worthy of hosting this mega international event. But, Mr. Excitement and I live in Center City Philadelphia, so I’m “scared out of my mind” about how this will impact our ability to function in our everyday lives.

The United States Secret Service is the lead agency in security planning. Therefore, during some early news conferences, Mayor Nutter told us there are security plans, but if he were to tell us too much, he’d have to kill us or something like that. Apparently, there’s a reason they call it the Secret Service. The Mayor informed reporters that the City and the Secret Service have an, um, “polite” working relationship—except for the conversations that “can’t be printed in a newspaper”.

Seriously people. We have to get a grip. I don’t think Paul Revere caused as much panic when he took his famous midnight ride in 1775 to warn that the British were coming. On the other hand, perhaps the hysteria is understandable. Based on recent statistics, the population of Philadelphia is 1,526,006. (If you were one of those 6 people, you wouldn’t want to be rounded down.) During his August 14th briefing, Mayor Nutter said that the papal events “will attract an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people to our City.” Based on my empirical observations i.e. I have no idea what I’m talking about, the 1, 526,006 residents of Philadelphia currently fit in the city very nicely. Where, in heaven, are they planning to put all these other people?

Our Rittenhouse Square apartment in Center City Philadelphia is about five blocks from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where two of the biggest papal activities are scheduled to take place. During the Papal weekend, a 4.7 square mile swath of the heart of the city (the so-called Traffic Box) will be closed to entering vehicular traffic, with two inner rings having even higher security requirements.  The official explanation for the wide perimeter of the Traffic Box can be paraphrased thusly:

William Penn was not thinking ahead when he planned out the city in 1683. Our streets are too narrow for motor vehicles and all those extra people coming to see the Pope.

The so-called "Traffic Box", a/k/a map of Francis Festival grounds.

The so-called “Traffic Box”, a/k/a map of Francis Festival grounds.

During the last few days, planning officials for the World Meeting of Families and for the City of Philadelphia are having what can best be described as a reverse freak out. Now, they are rebranding. They fear that everyone has done such a good job of notifying the public about the security hassles arrangements that too many people are deciding not to come to the papal events in person. There are still plenty of hotel rooms and special public transportation tickets available. So, going forward, no one is supposed to refer to the incoming vehicular traffic exclusion zone as the “Traffic Box”. It is now the “Francis Festival grounds”. Archbishop Chaput put it this way:

We’re staging a Francis Festival, not a “traffic box” with overtones of Jurassic Park.

Holy hyperbole, who said anything about dinosaurs!?! As a public service, I offer the following:

7 Tips for Surviving Popeageddon — or the Official Papal Visit Playbook explained by an actual Philadelphian

Statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art

There’s a statue of Rocky outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but this one is also there.

  1. Stock up on bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper. If you need motivation, pretend three inches of snow have been predicted. You know the drill. Get your supplies before the store shelves are cleaned out and you are reduced to eating Pop Tarts for the duration.
  2. Do you have any prescriptions that are likely to run out around the time of the Papal weekend? Plan ahead. I hear that running out of insulin, blood pressure medication or viagra is a real bummer.
  3.  Are your children toilet trained? Why not? If not, check your diaper supply. Do you need dog poop bags? Ditto.
  4.  Were you planning to send your children to school on  the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday before the Pope’s visit? Fuggetaboutit. Philadelphia public schools will be closed and if you work in Center City for any governmental agency, and you are not an essential person, stay home. Many other private businesses have also opted to close because of uncertainties about how their employees/clients/patients/suppliers/customers will be able to get to their places of business. Whether schools will be open on Monday, September 28th is still an open question. Update: Philadelphia public schools will be closed on Monday.
  5. Six major hospitals are within the Traffic Box Francis Festival grounds. If you are such a poor planner that you are expecting to give birth or need an organ transplant at one of those hospitals during the Pope’s visit, emergency medical services will probably assist you.
  6. The Official Papal Visit Playbook suggests that you start a physical training program for the papal visit because you’ll be walking (and standing)—a lot. You are advised to bring water, sunscreen, and a water proof poncho. Maybe throw in a few Pop Tarts protein bars—just in case.

Security information signs for the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia

If you are planning to attend the papal events and enter the inner most ring of the Traffic Box Francis Festival grounds, be prepared for airport level security. (I don’t think you’ll have to take off your shoes, but maybe make sure your socks don’t have holes in them — just in case.) Update: On Monday (the Pope’s arriving on Saturday), they had already closed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (a major connector to important roads to the west). Many signs with security information are up all over Center City. “Be prepared to open your outer garments.” (WTH-Define “outer garments”.) Given Philadelphians’ vaunted reputation for impatience, the Papal Visit Playbook says:

Most importantly, be patient. There may be long lines for security, bathrooms, food and entrance into Papal events….

This is all way too exciting for Mr. and Mrs. Excitement and the dog. Although Archbishop Chaput is making me feel guilty, we’ll be heading “down the shore” to Brigantine, New Jersey where I hear there will be plenty of eggs, milk and toilet paper. We’ll be watching the papal events on TV. The Pope will celebrate Mass in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Think how totally cool it would be if His Holiness were to channel his inner Rocky Balboa, follow the lead of all self-respecting Philadelphia visitors and take off running up up the Art Museum steps, pumping his fists in the air, while the choir sings Eye of the Tiger.

PS: Just because we’re wusses bailing doesn’t mean you should.

Will you be attending the Francis Festival? What’s the largest mass event you’ve attended?

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Donna Janke September 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Your humourous look at security preparations for the pope’s visit to Philadelphia painted a very real picture of what things must be like (and are likely to be like) in the city. I understand the need for security (sadly), but it can seem a bit crazy at times. The change in the spin from Traffic Box to Francis Festival is amusing. If I lived there and also had a place in Brigantine, I’d probably escape as well.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 1, 2015 at 8:55 pm

I do feel guilty getting out of Dodge, but it occurs to me that it’s going to be really noisy probably with police and local news helicopters buzzing all around. I hope enough people show up.

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avatar Jo September 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Oh you are too funny! What a great read to wake up to on this chilly Perth morning! But underlying the humour I can see very real concerns and rightly so. I hope though that the crowds will be peaceful so as you say it will be more about just trying to stay out of the crush than worrying about security of safety.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm

It will be interesting to see how this gets managed because Philadelphia will be hosting the Democratic National Convention next July—to pick the Democratic party candidate for president. That one probably actually has just as much (or more) potential for problems. OK. I am sounding really old now.

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avatar Jacqueline Gum September 2, 2015 at 6:24 am

Hilarious! But also a sad commentary of how life is these days i.e. security. The minute I heard this announcement I thought of you two. These things aren’t for me, personally. Even if I didn’t have a place “down the shore” I’d be heading out of town! While I am sure you are appreciative of the positive economic impact for your lovely city, I do hope people are respectful of property and such. Sometimes, what’s left behind is such a mess! Good Luck!!

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avatar Shobha September 2, 2015 at 8:28 am

Too funny. I’m pretty sure my parents are coming in for Bucks for the Papal Visit. Not sure even the The Box or Jurassic Park dinosaurs could keep them away from seeing the Pope. I, like you, would head in the opposite direction but I am not one of the Faithful. BTW, I love your ‘hood/Rittenhouse area. A Barnes & Nobles, Anthropologie and an Apple store – its the centre of civilisation.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 9:55 am

Shobha, I didn’t realize (forgot?) that your parents live in Bucks County. By all means, please let me know if you will be visiting the Delaware Valley. We live on the same block as the B&N and Antropologie (worthy of a visit just because of the neat old mansion where it is housed). We also have a La Colombe cafe and Rittenhouse Square, so, yes, it is the center of civilization (Philly style). I see you’ve been co-opted by UK spelling. 😉

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avatar Ed Holmes September 2, 2015 at 9:27 am

Looks like you’ve captured the spirit of things!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 10:09 am

Not to worry. After all this self flagellation, Philly will do herself proud welcoming Pope Francis.

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avatar Kay Dougherty September 2, 2015 at 11:01 am

Good grief – great plan to escape. I too love the “rebranding” of the Traffic Box. Does Philadelphia have to pick up the tab for all of the extra police, cleanup etc. or will the Vatican pay for it? I’ve heard they have some money.
As far as the upcoming political convention goes I lived in the heart of Boston when the Democrats had their convention there several years ago. The city hyped up the impact it would have on traffic, stores and restaurants with the result that Boston was practically a ghost town and a lot of businesses lost money. One good thing about living on Marco Island is that no one famous comes here!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Funny you should mention the Democratic National Convention. Philly is hosting that next July. Supposedly, private money was raised so that the City wouldn’t incur extra expenses during the Pope’s visit. However, businesses and even hospitals are taking a substantial hit.

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avatar Anita @ No Particular Place To Go September 2, 2015 at 11:09 am

HaHa! I’m still laughing as an image of the Frances Festival and flower bedecked aging Woodstock attendees flashes through my mind! Add that to a mental picture of Pope Frances running up the stairs with his robe trailing behind him and making punching gestures in the air and I have to say that neither you nor I have the necessary reverence to celebrate His Holiness’s visit!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm

One good thing about this Pope, is that he doesn’t take himself quite as seriously as some of his predecessors. However, that is not enough to make me want to have to live in the Francis Festival grounds for the weekend.

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avatar Maddy Resendes September 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Our “Father” who Art in Heaven (our literal father) must have done a pretty good job of atheism by osmosis. Because I just don’t get it?? Not viscerally. I am CA “spiritual” for sure – I do believe there are principles to live by that can support, inspire, uplift, comfort and guide us – but there are many ways to imbibe and discover said principles. I do think Pope Francis is a good man who over-all wields his power and influence responsibly, even edging the creaky institution he heads forward a tad. Anyhoo, you are off to Brigantine, but our mother will literally be spitting distance from the Art Museum – if I were her I’d go up on the roof and enjoy the show!!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 4:32 pm

This is a huge headache for the Watermark since they have to be staffed. It’s in the Traffic Box—er, I mean Francis Festival grounds.

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avatar Debbie D. September 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I don’t blame you for getting the hell out of town! Sounds like it will be a traffic nightmare, for sure. Love the humour in this post. 🙂 I can just picture the Pope running up those steps. (We did a drive-by years ago and want to get a closer look.)

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm

No drive bys. You have to come back to Philadelphia and run up the Art Museum steps.

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avatar Rachel Heller September 3, 2015 at 1:08 am

I love this description of the Popeapocalypse! It’s the same story whenever the President visits anywhere. I think you’re very wise to get out of Philadelphia and watch it in comfort on TV! You could put your house on Airbnb to pay for your days out of town.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 3, 2015 at 10:55 am

It looks like there will be plenty of hotel rooms. And we’d probably get evicted if we did that. All the tenants in our building received a warning reminder that we’re not allowed to sublet.

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avatar Anita September 3, 2015 at 1:54 am

Surreal! Love this take on the upcoming Papal Visit, aka Popeaggedon. Think I’ll pick another time to visit Philly…Have fun in Brigantine!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

Just make sure you check the dates for the Democratic National Convention next July. Since the current president is a Democrat, I suspect security might be a little high.

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avatar Karen Warren September 3, 2015 at 2:08 am

I have this horror of crowds and big events. I think I’d take the Papal Visit as an excuse to be planning my next trip away. (You could rent out your apartment to some of those visitors, although it might be a bit of a squash for 1.5 million people…)

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avatar Jean Hantman September 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Very funny!

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avatar Sue Reddel September 3, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I must live under a rock. I didn’t know the Pope was heading to Philly. Sounds like you’ve got the best game plan – head out of town!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

I don’t know if you live under a rock. Or, if you do, the rock isn’t in Philly. 😉

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avatar Carol Colborn September 3, 2015 at 5:33 pm

I am just glad I will be passing thru Philly on Nov. 8 instead of this Francis Festival and the Democratic Party National Convention. Anyway I will be @ the Vatican on Oct. 26 so that’s where I hope to meet this celebrity instead. As far as the other event, I don’t have any political party affiliation yet; just turned citizen 4 years ago! Your post was so much fun to read!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 9:48 am

Carol, if you have time, let me know when you’ll be in Philly and maybe we can have a meet-up IRL.

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avatar Nancie September 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

I survived a Papal visit in Halifax back in the 1980s. In fact, I lived right across from the venue, so access to my apartment building was strictly controlled, and I kept running into plain clothes policemen everywhere. I actually got to see the Pope (cannot remember which Pope), quite unexpectedly, on the night before the big mass. I was walking home from work and there he was in his Popemobile. The crowd was so, and the whole experience was a little surreal. The next day it poured rain, and I felt sorry for the crowds that attended the mass.

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avatar Nancie September 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm

That should have been the crowd was small. It was a very up close and personal encounter.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 9:50 am

I think upwards of 16,000 people live in the tightest security zone. Should be interesting for them—-unless they’re down the shore with us.

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avatar Leslie in Oregon September 3, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I wish the Pope could see this post; he’d probably get a nice chuckle! While I am interested in what this Pope has to say, I would do the same thing you are going to do while he is in Philadelphia, if I lived in the center of the city. Enjoy Brigantine!!

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avatar Karen Austin September 4, 2015 at 8:38 am

I was living in a far-flung suburb of DC when the previous Pope came to visit. It was very busy! But there were some wonderful moments–which I watched on tv/the internet from the comfort of my home. All my best to Philly for the honor / hassle of hosting. I hope the pros outweigh the cons.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 9:51 am

I’ll definitely be watching and I hope enough people show up in person to make it worth his while. It seems that locally, every day there’s some news report that makes less people want to be there—the latest being that unless you have a ticket, you aren’t going to be getting anywhere near the Pope.

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avatar Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen) September 4, 2015 at 8:46 am

Ha ha ha ha I definitely want that Rocky Balboa moment to happen!!!!! I will be in NYC on 9/25. Coincidentally, so will the Pope. Sadly, I don’t appear to be on his social agenda! 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 9:52 am

Fingers, um, crossed, for the Rocky moment.

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avatar Irene S. Levine September 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

The upside to Popeageddon is that you will have a window view of history and much more fodder for your terrific sense of humor!
xo

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Nope. We’re outta there!

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avatar 1010ParkPlace.com September 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Something tells me that you–especially you–and the residents of Philadelphia are going to cope brilliantly! Brenda

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avatar Kristin Henning September 4, 2015 at 2:55 pm

The reverse freak-out seems to be reasonable. London, for example, was over-prepared for crowds during the Olympics. Minneapolis’ bars and restaurants–like those in other sports towns–were sorely disappointed when All-Star game expectations kept people away. If only William Penn could see us now.

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avatar Jane Gramlich September 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Well done, Suzanne. I’m a native of Philadelphia although I reside about 50 miles northwest now. I’ve been watching as the city has rolled out it’s plans for the Papal visit, and changed them, and changed them once again. It seems that it is the “people” who barely figured into the plans. The people who hoped to be able to be a part, the people in the hospitality businesses, the people who were supposed to benefit in so many ways. Pope Francis is the people’s pope and this is The World Meeting of Families. The irony.

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avatar Suzanne Stavert September 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Good grief, sometimes I wonder about people. They so overwork so many situations. I loved your humor filled look at this security circus. I don’t think I would stay either if I had an opportunity to leave the city. I hope the Pope and his entourage are safe and the city enjoys his visit.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Me too. And I hope some people stick around so I won’t feel too guilty.

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avatar nan @ lbddiaries September 4, 2015 at 7:07 pm

So funny! I’m like you – I’d watch it on television before I’d stand for hours trying to find a bathroom (ho)! And I’d totally take Pop Tarts not protein bars – HEY it’s a special occasion, after all!! Loved this post!

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avatar Patti Morrow September 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Kind of how I felt about planning for the (seemed like) daily snowstorms in NH. All that preparation when it was so much easier to escape. For good, tho. Loved the bit about Paul Revere! I’m Philly will be a great visit for the Pope — with or without Mr. and Mrs. Excitement.

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avatar Marcia @ Menopausal Mother September 4, 2015 at 10:10 pm

This is hilarious!! I can’t even imagine how crazy the city is going to be! If it was me, I’d be planning a vacation during that time, far, far away!

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avatar Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru September 5, 2015 at 3:09 am

What?! I was ready for a “Peer at the Pope” party at your pad! Sounds like you could have had a peek at the Pontiff if you hadn’t planned other priorities! 😉

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avatar Barbara Hammond September 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I’m very happy we left the city before all of this. We would have been heading to the beach, too, but now we live here so we can relax and not stress over the outrageous security issues. Obama has been in town several times this year and didn’t have this kind of security. I don’t understand the extremes but, as you said, I really hope enough people show up to make it all worth it.
btw…you are a very good comedy writer!
b

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avatar nina September 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Suz

This is funny.. but really… It is just an event that will be ultimately really interesting and exciting on many levels (and I am not religious). It is like living in NYC. Things happen in the city, and that is a good thing. So there will be inconveniences. So what? It isn’t boring. It’s like having the US Tennis Open in Philly. Wow! I think it is pretty neat and I relish the interruptions it will cause. Neato!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Nina, I hope you’re going. It sounds like they’re going to need some warm bodies for the crowd.

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avatar Mike September 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm

I would be hitching a ride with you guys down to the shore, Suzanne! I’ve been privy to huge security details for dignitaries and it is absolutely nuts. Unless a person absolutely MUST take their chances to be able to see the Pope…get outta town for a week. Good post! 🙂 p.s. I don’t take Viagra but running out would be even worse than being stuck in traffic! 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 5, 2015 at 9:25 pm

It’s “down the shore”, Mike. Not “down TO the shore”. It’s Philly-speak. 😉 Our Pope visit is a warm up for the Democratic National Convention—just a little bit of security for that one too.

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avatar Carol Cassara September 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

He is such an interesting man. I saw the 20/20 the other night about his Town Hall with 3 American churches. I could see the kindness in his eyes.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm

He’s a kind man who I will be watching on TV unless I’m invited for a private audience. 😉

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avatar budget jan September 6, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Ha ha, I wonder if anyone whose baby is due at the time of the visit will be booking in for cesarean sections before the date! I love that they did such a good job scaring everyone away. 🙂

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 6, 2015 at 10:02 pm

And as hard as this is to believe—-the scare away has continued when they announced that they had already given away tickets for the area closest to the Pope. You can get there at 4:00 a.m. (after walking at least a mile because of the “Traffic Box” (um, Francis Festival grounds), but you are still not going to be closer than 6 blocks away from the Pope with trees and buildings in between. However, they will have big TV screens (Jumbotrons) set up. Or, you could stay home and watch him on your Tinytron TV.

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avatar Life Images by Jill September 6, 2015 at 10:41 pm

I hope that Philli will survive the Pope’s visit! I love your irreverent take on the visit.
I’m visiting you from Jo’s LIfestyle Fifty FB page. Great to meet you!

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avatar michelle September 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

HAHAHAH…this is AWESOME!!!

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avatar alison abbott September 7, 2015 at 10:46 am

We were in Washington many moons ago when Pope John Paul came to town. We saw him from afar and the crowds were unlike anything I have ever seen. Crowd control seems to be quite different now and I’m sure Philadelphia (and you) will survive quite nicely.

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avatar Beth Niebuhr September 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Fun article! What fun! A very big event and I wish I could be there for at least an hour! Not too practical since I live in Arizona. Enjoy the excitement and tell us about it afterwards.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I’ll be enjoying the excitement on TV down the shore in Brigantine, New Jersey. Please forgive me, Archbishop Chaput.

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avatar Ken Dowell September 7, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Maybe the pope will decide he needs a break and take a detour to the Jersey Shore. Ocean City is dry so that might be a good destination. Or maybe he could give Atlantic City a much needed blessing. So stock up on stuff in Brigantine just in case.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I’m not so sure the Pope needs (or would want) to hang out in a dry town. You’re right about AC needing some divine intervention. As long as he stays on the other side of the Absecon Inlet, we’ll be fine. 🙂

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avatar Erica September 7, 2015 at 6:38 pm

I had no clue that the Pope was visiting Philadelphia. My husband will be in Philly visiting his family until 9/22. Luckily he’s getting out of there right in time. We will be on the beach in San Diego by the time the Pope arrives. Good luck with that one. I remember the Pope visited NYC when I lived there. All I remember from the experience is that he rode around in a bullet-proof box so people could see him but not touch him, kind of like a caged hamster. I also remember they sold soap that you could hang around your neck called pope-on-a-rope.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Oh snap! Pope-on-Rope. Why didn’t I think of that?

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avatar Catarina September 8, 2015 at 7:01 am

Really amusing article about the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia!

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avatar Lenie September 8, 2015 at 8:34 am

Suzanne, I love your sense of humour – what a fun post. But here is a thought. There are roughly 1.5 million people (the six can fend for themselves) in Philadelphia and they are expecting another 1.5 million visitors – who may not show up because of the broadcasted
security plans. Now what happens if those 1.5 million visitors actually don’t materialize and the resident 1.5 million decide to go the beach with you? Someone wouldn’t be happy, I’m sure.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

Ok. Now you’re scaring me!

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avatar Pamela Chollet September 8, 2015 at 12:39 pm

It’s sad, that the state of wold is such people decide it’s better to leave their home then experience a rare world event. I don’t know how bad it would actually be for those residents who lived downtown as opposed to people who have to commute in the city. When Obama comes to LA it’s a nightmare! You can’t imagine the large areas of smaller traffic routes that area closed by security . But for the people that live in neighborhood where the President is visiting, as long as they don’t have to drive anywhere, they OK.

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avatar Donna Pilato September 10, 2015 at 8:06 am

Too funny Suzanne! Smart move getting out of the city. Although I’m not so sure if it will be much better on the New Jersey side of the bridge, although the shore will be fine if you can get there given all the road closures. Given all the hyperbole, blizzard precautions are warranted.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 10, 2015 at 11:20 am

We’re heading out Thursday afternoon to try to beat the rush.

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avatar Meredith @ The Palette Muse September 10, 2015 at 10:41 am

Suzanne, this had me in stitches! I think I’d be gettin’ the heck out of Dodge too, with all that hullabaloo. (No disrespect to the pope!) And I think this is the perfect example of how it absolutely IS possible to be happy and scared about something at the same time.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 10, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Definitely no disrespect to the Pope. I’ll also be looking for somewhere to go during the Democratic National Convention next July—and I’m a committed Democrat.

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avatar Marquita Herald September 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm

I’ve been to Philidelphia on many occasions for business so I can understand the concern over getting around, especially for the security team, but I think most people should be able to continue functioning considering it’s such a short visit. I’ve been stranded twice by hurricanes and once by a riot and managed to survive so hopefully slogging through a few traffic jams shouldn’t send anyone over the edge. That said, even though you’ve provided some great tips, I do think you’ve made the wise choice to observe from afar.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 12, 2015 at 10:23 am

I think the biggest problem will be for people who don’t have the option of slogging through traffic jams because they can’t use their car inside the, um, Francis Festival grounds.

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avatar Krystyna Lagowski September 11, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Hey, thanks for the great chuckle, Suzanne! The pope came to Toronto once quite a few years ago, but stayed away from downtown. There was a massive rally at an old airforce field which is used for concerts and other public events. What I remember, tho, is how 32,000 litres of raw human sewage from portable toilets flooded the sewer system and damaged businesses in the area. It took about six months to clean up. Never been a big fan of the Vatican, so this kinda summed it up for me!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr September 12, 2015 at 10:25 am

Oh dear. Something else for Philadelphians to phreak out about.

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avatar Mahal Hudson September 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

I had the honour of attending two World Youth Days in my lifetime thus far…..I must say that you are right about “you must be prepared” – to know where the washroom and stock up with food.

The bright side, I love the energy in the community.

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avatar Andy September 13, 2015 at 12:22 am

This is one neurotic blog post, Suzanne – all the more reason you should be regularly contributing to the BHB “Sharing” thread. 😉

BTW, the “largest mass event” I’ve ever attended was when I saw David Bowie at Veterans Stadium back in 1987. My music show days are pretty much behind me, but if I were to ever rekindle them again, a giant stadium is the LAST place I’d go.

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avatar Patti September 14, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Today as we were driving from northern Maryland the highway alert sign read:

D.C. event September 23 and 24 – use Metro

🙁

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avatar Paula McInerney September 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Wow this has got you really worked up hasn’t it.

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