Mayor Michael Nutter held a briefing Wednesday to provide more information about Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families next month. Here are some highlights:
1. Officials unveiled the "I'll Be There" campaign to excite businesses and residents about the papal visit. As part of this, the area from Girard Avenue to South Street and the Delaware River to 38th Street will be rebranded the Francis Festival grounds from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. Residents entering the festival grounds from the boundary streets will not have to go through a security checkpoint, Nutter said. The U.S. Secret Service will only screen those in very close proximity to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Mall, he said.
2. SEPTA and PATCO will deliver riders directly to the festival grounds on Saturday and Sunday. Those taking SEPTA to Center City will not have to walk more than a mile to access the Benjamin Franklin Parkway or Independence Hall, where the two largest papal events will be held. The World Meeting of Families will next week unveil a section of its website dedicated to helping attendees understand all available transportation options.
3. Uber black cars will be permitted the same access inside the traffic box as medallion taxis. Both will be permitted to operate in the traffic box until 2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 and beginning at 3 a.m. Monday, Sept. 28. Bicycles will be allowed everywhere except in the innermost secure perimeter closest to the Parkway and Independence Hall.
4. Beginning Aug. 31, street teams will deliver #OpenInPHL kits to area businesses that will include branded window clings to let potential patrons know they’re operating during the papal visit. Those visitors who share social media photos of themselves at those businesses with the hashtags #PopeinPhilly and #RomeContest will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a family vacation to Rome.
5. A number of area businesses including Jack's Firehouse restaurant and the Reading Terminal Market will remain open during the World Meeting of Families. The Reading Terminal will operate on a modified schedule, staying open an hour later Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26 and closing two hours early Sunday, Sept. 27.
6. For those who don't wish to attend the papal events, 40 jumbotrons will be strategically placed across the Francis Festival grounds. They will begin broadcasting at 6 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. A map will be released in the future.
7. In addition to restaurants and convenience stores, food and beverage retailers will operate all across the Francis Festival grounds, not just within the innermost secure perimeter. Independent food trucks will be there as well as concessions run by Aramark.