The Pope’s Really Big Visit

The estimate is 1 to 2 million visitors. What if it's even more?

What if Pope Francis visited and everybody came?

You’ve heard on Monday how the pope’s visit is expected to bring Philadelphia to a standstill — overwhelming SEPTA, clogging roads, and forcing everybody in town to walk miles just to get anywhere. Well, those projections are based on the notion that Philadelphia will get a mere 1 to 2 million visitors to see the pontiff.

PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa says we might want to prepare for even more visitors.

Pope Saint John Paul II, who was extremely popular, frequently set records for large crowds when he visited cities across the globe, drawing crowds of around 1 million in Rio De Janeiro and 4-5 million in Manila.

Pope Francis has consistently smashed those records since his election. A crowd of 3 million flooded Rio and 6 million overwhelmed Manila, causing Philippine authorities to require the police there to wear adult diapers due to the lack of toilets.

If Philadelphia follows this global trend, it could mean that the city’s population will temporarily triple, rather than merely double, over the Papal Visit weekend.

When asked about the risks of underestimating the crowds, Mayor Nutter acknowledged that, “there is no specific, scientific, documentable way to find out today… how many people will show up. It’s all an estimate.”

The pope visits Philly September 26 and 27. One way or another, there will be many people here.