America was in a frenzy when the Vatican revealed that Pope Francis would be visiting the States during his world tour. New York was in full-on crazy mode when residents learned the Pontiff would be visiting our fair city. How long would he be here? Would there be a mass? And most importantly, how do we get tickets? New York answered that last question by holding a lottery for tickets to see the Pope’s procession in Central Park. Since I never win anything, I decided to enter just because. Well man was I wrong, because that was the weekend that I would win not one but two lotteries! I won tickets to see Pope Francis and to attend the Global Citizen Festival, both which were held in Central Park.
If you’ve never been to an outdoor event in New York City, I am about to drop some serious knowledge on you. First, do not underestimate the number of people who live in New York!!! There are literally MILLIONS of people who live here and most of them will go to an outdoor event. I used to make that mistake when I first moved back to New York and ended up outside of the event with the rest of the suckers. Not anymore. I get up early and will park my butt on the sidewalk with the rest of the early birds to guarantee my entry (although I draw the line at sleeping on the street overnight).
Second, know what streets will be closed off. The NYPD usually closes off tons of streets the night before a large event, which makes it almost impossible to get around. However, the newspapers, new channels and the City itself will provide all of the information you need to find out what streets are closed. Knowledge is power so make sure you know before you go.
Third, be prepared to wait in line. I’m so serious about this, you will wait in lines that either move quickly or like the walking dead, but you will wait. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, see the photo I took of the people in line ahead of me to see the Pope’s procession. And this was before I even made it inside of Central Park. The wait is real, people!
Fourth, bring snacks! Because the lines are so long, having snacks is just a smart thing to do. However, ease up on the drinks because finding a bathroom or Port-A-Potty before you get to the venue is tricky. You will lose your place in line if you leave and have to start all over again. And by then, you won’t make it in.
Fifth, don’t be a jerk while in line. We’re all trying to get in, so be nice. It makes waiting in line so much more enjoyable and keeps everyone in a good mood. I came across some amazing people while making my way in to Central Park and I also went with one of my closest friends. Pushing, shoving, cursing or just basic douchiness is not allowed. There’s enough of that stuff going around, don’t bring it with you. Just have some fun!
Sixth, once inside the venue, find a way to get as close as possible so you can get a good view. Technically, I was in a good spot to see Pope Francis but I was surrounded by tall people (I’m very short). I was able to move up a little, but the faithful were not budging. When the Pope’s procession came closer, the number of arms that went up made it impossible for me to take a good photo, as you’ll see. Yeah, short people problems.
Thankfully, a wonderful woman named Pat Jacobs was gracious enough to share a photo she was able to take of the Pontiff. This amazing woman said that she wanted to make sure those who couldn’t take a decent photo were able to share a piece of history.
Ms. Jacobs was gracious enough to let me take a photo of her so I could show everyone what awesome looks like.
Thank you Pat!! It’s people like you who make me love New York so much!
After the procession and sharing of videos and pictures, my friend and I left to get some food. Once we sat down and mulled over what we just experienced, we realized how lucky we were by winning those tickets to witness history. No matter how you or I feel about the Pope of Rome, there aren’t too many people who can say they’ve actually seen him. I’m glad I did in the greatest city in the world.