Final preparations are under way for Sunday’s papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, expected to be the high point of the weekend’s events.
And the excitement is building now that Pope Francis is on American soil, said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
“I think people seeing the pope, in Washington, hearing him, seeing him in New York and the things that will happen there and then knowing of the imminent visit to Philadelphia may in fact cause a bunch of folks to do something on Saturday or Sunday than they had been thinking about doing a couple of weeks ago,” Nutter said Thursday.
The city is ready to deal with big crowds, no matter how many show up, he said. Estimates have centered on 1 million or more for the Sunday Mass.
City officials declined to address questions about how the event is hurting or helping businesses within the “traffic box,” otherwise known as the “Francis Festival Grounds,” the heart of the weekend’s activity.