NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pope Francis will be visiting Central Park when he comes later this month, giving tens of thousands of New Yorkers an opportunity to see the Holy Father and share in the excitement of his visit.
The pope “will greet thousands of guests in a historic procession through Central Park along the West Drive” on Sept. 25, the mayor’s office announced Tuesday.
“The procession through Central Park will give thousands of New Yorkers an opportunity to come face to face with Pope Francis,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re proud to welcome one of the world’s most powerful voices to our great city … and we are grateful to the archdiocese for their cooperation in giving even more New Yorkers a chance to join in this historic visit.”
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the opportunity to be seen by large numbers of his flock was the one thing missing from Pope Francis’ New York schedule. He may even be able to get out of his Popemobile and touch people without creating a security nightmare, Kramer reported.
“We’ve been trying to think of a way for more New Yorkers to see the pope; to experience the pope, as well as give the pope more of an opportunity to see and experience New Yorkers,” said Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling
The New York Archdiocese is very grateful to the city for arranging the trip through the park, Zwilling said.
“This will enable, we hope, many tens of thousands of people to be present so that, as the pope travels by in Popemobile at a relatively slow speed, that people will be able to feel as if they’ve had a part in this visit of Pope Francis,” Zwilling told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
The decision to have the pope travel through Central Park on the West Drive between 72nd and 60th streets is the result of negotiations with the city and security experts concerned about protecting the pope.
Sources told CBS2 that officials are leaving nothing to chance, and have worked out every possible doomsday scenario from bombs to snipers – as well as the fastest routes to hospitals near every spot the pope will visit.
“We will obviously have the most stringent and tightest security protocols around,” said Phil Walzak, senior adviser to Mayor de Blasio.
Tickets will be required to attend the event, which will take place while the pontiff is en route from Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Elementary School in East Harlem to Mass at Madison Square Garden.
To get a ticket, you will need to click here or call 311 from Thursday to Monday. The tickets will be awarded in a lottery.
Only New York state residents may apply for tickets. Residents of New Jersey and Connecticut may not.
“The pope’s visit to New York is designed to give as many New Yorkers access as possible,” said Mayor’s office spokeswoman Monica Klein.
The winners will be notified Sept. 10.
For a complete schedule of the pope’s upcoming visit, click here.
“The pope’s motorcade and procession going through Central Park will really allow literally tens of thousands of New Yorkers to see him face to face; perhaps interact with him on some level, and just take in the excitement and importance of the moment,” added Walzak.
The pope is said to be thrilled that the plan for the Central Park motorcade could be worked out.
“That’s one of the things he said he wanted to do,” Zwilling said. “He doesn’t want to spend his time giving big talks. He doesn’t want to spend his time driving around in a car. He wants to spend as much time as possible with people, and this is going to allow that to happen.”
Meanwhile, some area children are getting excited about meeting Francis.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, students at St. Ann School were asked this spring to come up with an Earth Day project. Principal Hope Mueller got an outstanding presentation about “how, as a community, we should be adopting these flower beds that are on 110th Street in front of our church and school,” she said. “So we decided, what better time to do that than in honor of Pope Francis’ visit and his call to us to reach out to our community and environment?’”
Fourth-grader Noah Rodriguez finally got to see his vision of cleaner streets become reality.
“I would like to see them with no litter on them, to be the cleanest streets,” Noah said.
It’s a subject Noah will get to discuss with the pope, as one of the lucky Catholic school children chosen to meet him.
The cost of papal security is still being worked out. The federal government will chip in for both the pope’s visit and the United Nations General Assembly.
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