Forget everything. Everything you’ve ever known, everything that you cherish or, at least, forget the phrase “traffic box.” That’s what Donna Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, wants. In a press conference that almost veered into Kathleen Kane territory once or twice because of its mixture of odd pump-up tactics and gaffes, she announced the new name, the amount of jumbotrons that will be stationed at the event and even a papal contest. Mayor Michael Nutter also told Philly to relax and get excited for this pope visit. Here a couple of updates on the pope’s upcoming visit, along with descriptions of a few odd moments, because they defined this afternoon’s press conference more than most of the new developments.
Uber Black gets the same treatment as cabs
Just like cabs, Uber Black vehicles will have the opportunity to remain in the “traffic box” until the Saturday morning of the pope’s visit at 2 a.m. and the opportunity to be back in the traffic box 3 a.m. that Monday. Nutter did not comment about UberX. Uber WAV, Uber’s wheelchair accessible service, will be allowed into the “traffic box” throughout weekend, as will be the case for some wheelchair accessible cabs and SEPTA CCT vehicles.
Donna Farrell throws a one-woman pep rally
Farrell’s performance started with some, let’s call it, enthusiasm. She practically started chanting “28 days away” and then ticked off reasons why people should come to see the pope, such as that they’ll have to walk just one mile after taking SEPTA or PATCO and they won’t have to go through security to visit some vendors.
Oh, and then the big deal: Going forward she wants the traffic box to be referred to as the “Francis Festival Grounds.” Farrell said that from now on, “we are banning the use of words traffic and box.”
40 jumbotrons will show Pope Francis
They’ll be placed near the stage at Eakins Oval where the pope performs mass and appears at the Festival of Families and all the way throughout Center City. Nutter said exact locations would be given soon.
You can win a trip to Rome by using a hashtag
Through a contest announced by Farrell, one person and one business can win a free family trip to Rome by taking pictures around Philly and of businesses on social media and using the hashtags #PopeInPhilly and #RomeContest. The businesses will have to be displaying their OpenInPHL signs. Got all that branding? Next week, Center City businesses will be given the signs and buttons to display to show support for the papal visit. Nutter said the contest is not in response to confusion from people and businesses about papal security.
Reading Terminal Market will be open
The GM of the Reading Terminal Market had recently suggested the market might close during the pope’s weekend because it wouldn’t be able to receive deliveries or have enough staff come in. The closure will not happen. Nutter said the GM decided it would stay open.
Nutter’s thought seemed, uh, elsewhere
Know how we’re supposed to submerge the phrase “traffic box” deep into the far recesses of our subconscious mind or whatever? Well shortly after Farrell got done giving her speech, Nutter called the area now known as Francis Festival Grounds the traffic box. Then he called it Francisville, like the neighborhood. He finally called it Francis Festival at least once, though.
Nutter also forgot about the three other speakers talking after him. He was set to take questions when he got reminded that leaders from the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Philadelphia African American Chamber of Commerce were there to speak, too.
— Tom MacDonald–WHYY (@TMacDonaldWHYY) August 26, 2015
Bikes can go everywhere except the secure perimeter
Nutter said his office had been hearing confused messages about the bicycle situation and wanted to make sure people knew where they could go via bicycle. He said they would be allowed everywhere in the city except for the secure perimeter, the area including and nearest to the Parkway that will be fenced off and only accessible after going through security. It’s the red part in this map below.
Hotels still available
According to Nutter, who said he couldn’t give any exact details on hotel rooms, there “might be some snazzy deals out there.”