Near or far, people hope to spot the pope

CENTER CITY -- Pope Francis' visit to the city is less than a week away and changes are already taking place on the Parkway starting with traffic delays due to inner-lane closures.

The alter is also being set up, and locals say they are excited to see the man who is changing the face of the Catholic Church.

"He is making the problems human. I wanna see the human person; I wanna see him in the flesh," said Ed Speedling of Fairmount.

With zoning and ticket regulations, some aren't so optimistic about the possibility of seeing the pope.

"We all hope that we get to see him, but I don't know," said Sister Mary Scullion with Project Home.

To give people an idea of what they will be able to see from the non-ticket zone, Action News put our camera at 20th Street and the Parkway.

In the distance, a cutout of Pope Francis could barely be seen.

Still, for non-ticket holders, 40 jumbotrons will be placed throughout the city, most of which will be on the Parkway.

Bill O'Brien of Center City is one of the lucky people who will get an up-close view of the pope during Saturday's Mass at the cathedral.

Accompanying O'Brien in the seventh row is his 15-year-old daughter.

"I look at this as an opportunity for kids to strengthen, connect or begin to believe in something," said O'Brien.

If you want to avoid the crowds all together, there is still a way for you to connect with the pope.

People of all faiths are tying ribbons with their cares and concerns and placing them at a prayer grotto set up next to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul.

Sister Mary says she hopes the pope comes to bless the prayers.

Whatever the circumstances, many are making the journey to be touched by the pope in some way or another, hoping his message of peace and love leaves a lasting effect on the city.

"It's gonna be just a few days. I'm sure the vibe will fade, but something will last," said Speedling.

Action News learned Thursday the best bet to get close to the pope, even without a ticket, is around city hall during the Saturday parade or on Logan Circle for the parade on Sunday.
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