Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter didn't hold back while blaming media coverage for negative feelings of some residents leading up to Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia this weekend.
The media "scared the s*#t out of people with some of the stories,” Nutter said. He used the expletive Monday when telling reporters they scared people from attending.
A reporter immediately retorted reminding the mayor of his dire warning for visitors to "be prepared to walk for miles" when discussing security closures.
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The mayor later apologized for what he called his "intemperate remark" and said he expected "a timely and terse" admonishment from his mother.
Nutter said news reports about security measures that would be in place for Francis' visit — which included the fencing off of the city's core, blocked streets, airport-level security and the National Guard stationed on corners — may have deterred people from attending events over the weekend.
The pope came to Philadelphia for the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families conference. Officials with the conference had estimated that 1.5 million would show up for the pope's visit.
Nutter didn't provide any final crowd numbers Monday but on Sunday, a media pool source estimated a crowd of 860,000 attended Mass Sunday on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Another 20,000 people had attended the weeklong conference, said WMOF organizers. Thousands more attended various other events including the Festival of Families concert and Independence Hall address.
Nutter also blamed a lack of communication between Philadelphia and its neighbors and information that leaked out over the summer before plans were finalized. He said that about 90 percent of the city's hotel rooms were occupied.
"A whole lot of folks decided that they wanted to be here,” Nutter said.
“This is not a situation where you evaluate success based on the score ... the event itself was successful,” said Nutter, who pointed to a generally secure event with only a handful of arrests.
The city and WMOF organizers also noted the relative timeliness of events, the spiritual feeling and the many opportunities for people to see the pope.
However, some city restaurants reported very slow business over the weekend and other business had trouble staffing due to the traffic box and no vehicle zones.
“This was never billed as a huge economic event, or a huge moneymaker,” Nutter said.
He said he had no clue the eating habits of papal pilgrims.
"They had to eat somewhere. I don’t know if folks packed enough energy bars to last two days."