The thousands of get-’em-while-they-last tickets to see Pope Francis’ speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Mall didn’t last very long.
Just ask Emilie Haertsch of Cheltenham. She dedicated her lunch break at her communications job to securing four spots in the crowd, the maximum allowed per person.
At noon, when tickets were released, she tried, and was told: “Just hold tight, she said. “After maybe 30 seconds or so, I was told the tickets were unavailable.”
Admittedly, she was pessimistic, but saw a silver lining.
“I was actually hopeful that it was a crash,” Haertsch said. “I thought this was the best chance.”
But this time, a crash was averted. Her rejection was final.
Officials said nearly 400,000 unique visitors came to the site for a chance at 10,000 free tickets that were gone in two minutes.
“The ticket issue is awful,” said Anne, who didn’t want to give her last name. She said she used two computers with two different browsers and still was left empty handed.
“We who live in Center City are facing all the chaos but little of the direct benefit,” she said. “Of course, even our inconvenience and frustration pales beside pilgrims coming from all over the world who will also be left, like us, merely watching the Holy Father on Jumbotrons.”
Roger Lynch, a tax accountant from Wilmington, is among those looking to exploit the white-hot demand. He’s non-religious, has no interest in the pope, but figured he could make a buck on the four tickets he obtained through the grace of something.
He’s looking to sell them for $100 a pop. Not a bad deal compared to some other listings, which are asking for $1,000 per ticket.
“If any of them sell for me at any price, it will be a win for me, because I got them all for free,” said Lynch, who said he’ll give the tickets away if no takers emerge.
Mayor Michael Nutter said the world shouldn’t look kindly upon opportunistic sellers like Lynch.
“I think that’s pretty ignorant to be honest,” Nutter said. “Pope Francis comes to speak in Philadelphia to speak on immigration and religious freedom; you get a free ticket and then throw it up on a site to try to sell it. At least in the neighborhood where I grew up that’s trifling.”
Dawn Fallik, who teaches journalism at the University of Delaware, said she had more than 20 students attempting to get tickets. In the end, the group was able to grab only four.
That will have to work, she said, since turning to third party sellers doesn’t feel very papal-like.
“That has got to be the worst bad karma that you can get,” Fallik said. “I’m not going down that route.”
World Meeting of Family officials said free tickets for the pope’s Sunday mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be available at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Just like Tuesday’s giveaway, pope fans will be limited to four tickets per person, and the number will be capped at 10,000.