The Pope in Philly

What people are doing for Pope weekend: Seeing Francis live, GTFO, Netflix and chill

Pope Francis stepping off a SEPTA bus.

Pope Francis stepping off a SEPTA bus.

Since news slooooowly trickled out about massive security plans and street closures for the upcoming Papal visit, all we’ve heard from many people is some iteration of “I’m going to GTFO.” Rumors even circulated that shore towns were prepping for an influx of visitors — as in, Philadelphians trying to get away from the traffic and tourism nightmare.

We took an informal poll of 50 Philadelphians online and in-person to ask people where they’re going and what their plans are for the Papal visit. Sure, it’s not perfectly scientific. But it gives us a good idea of what our fellow Philadelphians are planning for the weekend.

Here’s a look at what we found:


Getting the hell outta Dodge

Of the 50 people we spoke with, just 11 had plans to completely leave town for the weekend, and of those, three people said their trips were previously planned for work and had nothing to do with the Papal visit.

The rest were looking forward to getting away and staying with friends or family for what will be, for many, a four-day weekend since they won’t be able to make their way into the office. Aisha Smith, an Olde Kensington resident who’s home falls just outside the traffic box area, said she hasn’t made plans yet to leave — but she’s trying.

“It would be cool to stay because historic and everything,” she said, “but I’d also like to be able to move around.”

City officials have tried to push the historic nature of the Papal visit to get Philadelphia residents to stick around and encourage local businesses to stay open despite concerns about massive crowds and inaccessibility to certain needs. Toward the end of August after outcry over huge security measures, the city and the World Meeting of Families launched the “I’ll Be There” campaign as well as the #OpeninPHL hashtag.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.55.06 AM
World Meeting of Families

So if you’re still trying to get out of town for Popeapalooza, here are a few day trip ideas that could easily be made into weekend getaways and are far enough that you should be away from most of the Papal traffic jams:

Staying home and hunkering down

The vast majority of Philadelphians we spoke with were planning to actually stay in town, but try to avoid the madness near the Parkway at all costs.

Michael Waring, a 37-year-old from West Philly, said where he lives falls within the traffic box Francis Festival land, so he plans to drive around his general area, but not leave the box. Because remember: If you leave the traffic box in your car, you can’t drive it back in.

“It seems like the city is overreacting and I’m worried the response is a little harsh,” he said. “But I’m going to be able to walk around foot, so I’m not too worried.”

Also, Pope block party anyone? It’s goin’ down in South Philly.

There’s also a sizable contingent of people — as in, 8,800 — who have RSVP’d to attend a Pope Bar Crawl on Saturday Sept. 26. It seems organizers in the Facebook group are still trying to gather a list of bars that are taking part in the Pope drinking festivities.

Going to see the Pope

A few of the folks we spoke with earlier this week were hoping to snag a coveted ticket for the best seats in the house for the Papal mass — those 10,000 free tickets available sold out in about 30 seconds and are already being scalped on Craigslist and Ebay.

Anyone who doesn’t get a ticket to see one of the Papal events is still able to attend as they’re open to the public, and attendees will hopefully have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Pontiff as he rides through town during two different parades/ motorcades. If not, the view for the mass is probably going to look something like this:

Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Others said they may plan to venture toward Center City to see the crowds, or even stand near other Catholic or religious establishments, like this guy who’s hoping for a glimpse from St. Charles Seminary near Overbrook:

Netflix and chill

This clearly gets folded into staying home and hunkering down. But we’ll meet you back here in nine months when the local hospital maternity wards are filled with newborns, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Want some more? Explore other The Pope in Philly stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?