Ticket in hand, but still stuck on security line

Catholic nuns of Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, Indiana, pray as they wait for the beginning of the mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway September 27, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pope Francis will end his six-day visit to the U.S. after the event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Edith Ojo of Philadelphia had a ticket for a seat at mass - in the 10th row. But by the end of the homily she was still in line on 21st street, and feeling flustered.

"I've been going around from place to place," she said, receiving mixes instructions on which entrance to use.
She was able pass some in line by showing her ticket, which she got from her parish, St. Francis de Sales, in University City.

Was there any chance she could reach her seat? she asked a volunteer.

The woman slowly shook her head.

As Ojo explained her frustration to a reporter, another woman in the crowd saw her ticket and told her to keep skipping ahead in line.

And off she went, shouting over her shoulder that this is what she's been going through all day.


With two hours to go before the pope's Mass on the Parkway, thousands of pilgrims -- even many with tickets -- were still waiting in lines that stretch for blocks. 

The Secret Service has added checkpoints and equipment to try to accelerate the screenings, and switched the checkpoint at 20th and Callowhill to accept both general admission and ticketed guests. 

Many in line weren't mad about the wait, though, and continued singing, changing "Viva Francisco!" and celebrating shared passion with their fellow Catholics.  

"It's been amazingly organized," said LaDean Barnes, 52, of Charlottesville, Va.  "Join the party!"

Mayor Nutter said he regretted the delay, but "that's not something we're in control of or can quite frankly do a whole lot about."

Nutter said it's clear the crowd is far larger for Sunday's events than those on Saturday.

"I think the joy here is there are a bunch of people here," he said. "And many more coming, certainly for the mass. ... We have known since this morning that there are many more people on the street and making their way up to the parkway than what was going on yesterday." 

Yesterday the city's push alerts were more about weather and what to wear. Today they are all about crowds and alternative plans to watch the Mass from "a distance."   For example:  "PHILA: 40+ Jumbotrons are set up in Francis Festival grounds for viewing #PopeInPhilly events from a distance www.nixle.us/8RP9G."

thick waves of humanity are rolling from al directions toward 20th and the Parkway. My prediction: GIGANTIC crowd for pope's 4pm Mass. Seeing and hearing lots more Philly-area locals among the masses than yesterday. #popeinphilly

A photo posted by Maria Panaritis (@panaritism) on Sep 27, 2015 at 9:14am PDT

Federal officials this morning closed all but one line for those with tickets, causing a bottleneck up to three blocks long that is moving maybe a half block per 30 minutes.

Another problem : all other lines leading to checkpoints from the biz district, for the many unticketed pilgrims, a large number Apprently from phila -and suburbs parishes, are barely moving and they, too, are three blocks long.

"It's crazy," one unnamed federal agent conceded.

One thing I love about the World Meeting of Families is listening to all the different languages. For instance, this excited group from Vietnam. The group's leader, Minh Duc Tring, 48, who hails from Saigon, spoke near-perfect English. But it was fun to listen to the music of their language as they chatted excitedly while walking up Locust toward Market Street.

A photo posted by Wendy Ruderman (@wendy.ruderman) on Sep 27, 2015 at 9:00am PDT

Kathy Bennett, a 62-year-old registered nurse from Kansas City, Missouri, pushed her husband, Anthony Bennett, 66, in a wheelchair up Locust Street toward 10th. They had just emerged from the PATCO train station from Jersey, where they have been staying at the Hampton Inn since Thursday night. Kathy Bennett said her husband broke his upper femur in May and went through intense physical therapy to get well enough to come see the pope. His doctors gave him the green-light in early September. "I was afraid for awhile that we were going to have to cancel, but we kept praying and hoping and we got here." She said they were both exhausted but thrilled. They got a glimpse of the pope yesterday. "It was pretty exciting," she said, slightly out of breath.

A photo posted by Wendy Ruderman (@wendy.ruderman) on Sep 27, 2015 at 8:50am PDT