Pope Francis will parade down Philly's Benjamin Franklin Parkway — twice — when he's in town.
Saturday evening, Sept. 26, before the Festival of Families, the Papal procession will stretch from Eakins Oval to and around City Hall.
"It's basically gonna let everyone gathered on the Ben Franklin Parkway really, and beyond, see the Holy Father up close," said Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director for the World Meeting of Families.
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The pope's second parade or procession along the Parkway takes place Sunday afternoon before the 4 p.m. Papal Mass and will likely be shorter. The WMOF is working with the Vatican and Secret Service to finalize the route.
Farrell's news conference included an apology for Wednesday's surprising, late-in-the-game news that the best seats for the pope's two Parkway events were already taken and the general public would have to take a back seat, at least five blocks from the stage.
Along with the parades, the WMOF is making a total of 30,000 tickets available now to the public — 5K general admission tickets for the Immigration speech by Pope Francis at Independence Mall on Saturday were already being made available next week. An additional 5K were added, bringing the total to 10K. And 10K general admission tickets each for the Festival of Families on Saturday night and the Papal Mass Sunday at 4 p.m. will be released. You'll be able to get the tickets online only. Ticketing instructions get released Friday, Sept. 4.
A big announcement about the parades had been planned for the Tuesday after Labor Day, but any excitement about that big secret was blown Tuesday when another secret got out. PlanPhilly posted a Secret Service map they said had been posted and then removed Tuesday from the WMOF's Facebook page. The map showed the half of the Parkway closest to the pope's stage reserved for ticket holders. Speculation swelled over what "ticket holders" meant, forcing the WMOF into a public admission that the Secret Service map was correct.
Farrell faced some of the toughest questioning to date about the way in which communication to the public about logistics has been handled. It's clear however why her team at times refers to Farrell as the biggest cheerleader ever for the Papal visit and World Meeting of Families. Before taking the first question she did remind us all:
"I do, even today, still say, 'Best. Job. Ever.'"