Pope Week: The Hangover
The party’s over.
Pope Francis has left the building — in fact, he’s back in Rome already — and Philly begins its return to normalcy today. Expect a funk: This city — the church, top officials, thousands of volunteers, and yes, journalists — have spent months obsessing about the two days we just experienced. Now they’re over. There’s going to be a let-down feeling after all that work and adrenaline were expended.
So be nice to yourself today, Philly. You just did a very big and difficult thing. And when you get the chance: Treat yo self.
Three things to know today:
• Transportation is returning to normal. But not all at once. “The Ben Franklin Bridge and both directions of the Schuylkill and Vine Street Expressways have reopened, but some ramps leading to and from those highways remained closed early Monday,” 6ABC reported.
The station also reported: “Regular weekday service will resume on SEPTA transit buses, subways and trolleys at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, with the exception of Regional Rail, which will operate a Saturday schedule. Enhanced service will operate on the Cynwyd and Wilmington/Newark Lines.”
In a Sunday night press conference, Mayor Michael Nutter said 3/4 of the traffic box (as seen below) had been lifted, but West Philadelphia and Logan sectors remain blocked.
“3/4 of the traffic box is actually gone. The National Guard has left all those areas. West Philadelphia is still in effect, that portion right now and what we referred to by sectors as Logan which is right where the heart of the activity is up on the Ben Franklin Parkway. of the traffic box, the Francis Festival Grounds is actually gone, lifted, doesn’t exist anymore,” Mayor Nutter said in a press conference.
Schools and many public offices are closed today. And if you’re flying: Get to the airport early.
• Now the recriminations begin. You’ve already heard stories like this one from NBC 10. You’ll hear more.
All types of businesses, from restaurants and bars to clothing shops and even dollar stores in the city say they found it hard to make a buck during the Pope’s visit.
“We have been suffering big time,” Dollar-o-Mart Plus Dollar Store owner Asghar Ansari said. “We stocked an additional $4,000 to $5,000 in product, like chargers, batteries and food items; things we thought people would need. But the only thing selling is the Pope stuff.”
In retrospect, somebody should’ve warned the business community that hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims were likely to be a lot cheaper than the usual convention center attendees of professionals flying in on an expense account. A family that raised its money to come to Philadelphia by selling lemonade? Probably not up for spending $70 on an Aramark two-pack.
No one wants to see Philly businesses damaged. But evaluating this event probably requires looking at more than dollars and cents. For some of that perspective, we’ll be treated to a press conference this morning with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Bishop Jean Lafitte, Secretary, Pontifical Council for the Family.
• Oh, and that family that drove all the way here from Argentina to see the pope? They met him in person.
Check out the entirety of our #PopeinPhilly coverage, won’t you?