Preparations for a two-day concert this weekend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway are nearly finished, but the event will serve as a dry run for the pope’s visit in three weeks.
Everett Gillison, Philadelphia’s director of public safety, said the Made in America festival offers city officials and event organizers a chance to watch for things that may need to change for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.
“Last year, if you remember, we had to test our mass evacuation and our mass casualty capability from the Parkway because there were storm events,” he said. “We had to get 60,000 people off and away from the various structures that could be hit by lightning.”
With crowds of 70,000 expected for each day of the festival, Gillison said, cell phone capacity will be among the things put to the test.
“Our partners with AT&T, Verizon has really enhanced all the capacity in this area in advance of the papal use of the Parkway, we’re going to test and see how much usage we get and monitor all of that as we are here,” he said.
Almost as soon as the concert staging comes down, work will begin for the papal Mass and Festival of Families on the parkway.