PHILADELPHIA (WOOD) — For the faithful assembled in Philadelphia, Sunday’s papal Mass was the culmination of a weeklong gathering of families from around the world. Officials told 24 Hour News 8 the crowd peaked at over 860,000 and posed significant challenges for law enforcement.
Stretching several city blocks, hundreds of thousands of people crammed into converging lines in the Center City district as they waited between two and three hours to get into the Sunday afternoon Mass, creating an almost carnival-like atmosphere and some real stressors for police.
“Today, unfortunately, it’s a real mess. I was going to go down and now I’m not going because I don’t want to take the place of somebody who has a ticket,” said Barbara Hearn, a Philadelphia-area resident.
Those with tickets put forward an optimistic face and tried to find inspiration in the shared experience.
“We’re keeping it going, we’re trying to stay happy. How can you not be happy? Everyone just has the best attitudes!” Palooma Carol, a former Grand Rapids resident, said.
“I guess we can just offer it up and just building the virtue of patience, standing in those lines,” another attendee said.
Even as Pope Francis embarked on his parade prior to the mass, tens of thousands were still waiting in lines.
One might argue that only the pope can put a dent in the crowds at Philly sports bars watching the Eagles. Locals said they had never seen anything like it.
“It’s fascinating,” one Philadelphia resident said. “I think the whole gathering is a bit more than I expected as a resident of the city. It’s very entertaining.”