Kevin Donahue, D.C.’s deputy mayor for public safety, credits numbers of factors, including a flexible workforce — those who chose to stay home or telework.
“I think it made an enormous difference in allowing people who wanted to come into the city to see the Pope to be able to do so,” Donahue says.
The pontiff’s plane touched down at the Philadelphia airport after takeoff from New York, bringing him to a city of blocked-off streets, sidewalks lined with portable potties, and checkpoints manned by police, National Guardsmen and border agents.
After speeches to Congress and the United Nations earlier this week aimed at spurring world leaders toward bold action on immigration and the environment, he is expected to focus more heavily on ordinary Catholics during his two days in Philadelphia.
On the itinerary for Saturday: a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul for a Mass for about 1,200 people, and a late-afternoon speech in front of Independence Hall on religious freedom and immigration. The weekend’s events will culminate in an outdoor Mass Sunday evening for 1 million people.
Among those greeting Francis at the airport was Richard Bowes, a former Philadelphia police officer wounded in the line of duty seven years ago. Francis also got out of his black Fiat to bless a man in a wheelchair on the tarmac, kissing him on the forehead.
A Catholic high school band played the theme song from the Philadelphia-set movie “Rocky.”
On the first two legs of his six-day U.S. journey, in Washington and New York, Francis was greeted by throngs of cheering, weeping well-wishers hoping for a glance or a touch from the wildly popular spiritual leader, despite unprecedented security.
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