Papal Ankling – Part 1 of 2

On Saturday, I woke up early and said to myself: “Maybe I’ll go see the Pope.” So, off I went.

I live on the East Side and the Pope was going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town on Fifth Avenue. For days, we’d been plastered with notices as to what streets are open/closed and the like. So, my target was to get as close to Fifth Avenue and 51st Street as I possibly could.

I had heard they were issuing 5,000 tickets for St. Patrick’s, but I’m not Roman Catholic and I figured that there was quite a crush for them. But I had heard that the Pope’s route down Fifth Avenue was open to the public and I just viewed it as another sort of parade.

And off I went. I heard that security was going to be high, but (and I say this as someone who has seen a number of presidential motorcades and appearances) Wow! Oodles of security.

Madison Avenue is just to the east of Fifth Avenue. Security had cut off everything on Madison north of 47th Street. Here are those dumptrucks again. Papal Dumptrucks! There oughta be a marketing tie-in somehow on this.

If you could prove you worked/lived north of there, you could go through. But probably only a block or two. And you saw a cop every 10 feet or so.

The rest of us they told to go over to Sixth Avenue. And so we walked over there, but had to go to 46th Street to do so. On Sixth, I found a huge line of people apparently waiting to be let to go onto Fifth Avenue. (When I walked past Fifth, I saw that they had empty barricades waiting for people to be let into the area.)

I first walked across the street and took a picture of the Sixth Avenue line. I joined it at 45th street and in less than 2 minutes had at least 100 people behind me. They were coming in droves.

Here’s a picture from within the line. The crowd was quite jovial and excited and I was delighted to be in it. A couple of people around me mentioned that they had their tickets and I thought that it was interesting that they hadn’t segregated out the ticket holders from the rest of us rabble.

Sirius Radio hired a number of pretty, young ladies to hand out placards. The placards were very popular. I got one of the hander-outers to pose for me.

And, of course, there were a number of people selling, as best as I can describe it, Pope Junk.

When the line got to 47th Street, the police had set up a line of cops to shunt people coming out of the subway stop to get in our line. By this time, I figured the line was back to 40th Street or so. For people going to see a moral leader, they had no qualms about cutting into line. No one denounced them. Just about the only ones who didn’t cut into line were the ones trying to cut into line further ahead. Oh, and ones trying to get the cops to give them a break and let them go down 47th. Apparently, people who could prove they worked/lived there were let through.

A common sight, a number of people would just caaaassssuuuuuaaaaalllllllyyyyy duck under the barricades and start walking down the street with the cops running up to them and throwing them out. The people were utterly bewildered, or seemingly so.

Once past 47th, the speed of the line going over to Fifth picked up. And so did the bad news. Just as I was nearly past 47th, a cop called out that the line was only for people with tickets. I didn’t believe him. It was 8:18am and I had joined the line about 7:20. I started wondering why no one had said anything earlier if it were true. Maybe they had segregated the ticket holders from the rabble and I, rabble indeed, had overstepped my bounds. I just kinda laughed about it and figured that maybe I wouldn’t get to see Pope Benedict XVI after all.

But there were others who weren’t going to see the Pope either. This fun little group of protestors tried to provoke people. I think once they passed us, they did get called names by people further back. Folks, that’s what they want.

Mostly, they were ignored by our group. Actually, it may have been inadvertent and the protest group was moving fast and most of the people around me were all deep in conversation with each other.

And the protestors did love getting their pictures taken. You just have to wonder about their priorities in this life and their willingness to make unfounded/provocative statements. No explanation as to why or what or how. Just a denouncement. (Maybe they were pro-Pope provocateurs trying to ferret out the unfaithful. Yes, that must be true. The young people below are doubtless Opus Dei insiders! Ha! I found you out! Don’t try to deny it.)

And when I got to 49th Street, a cop came by calling out that we needed to pull out our tickets or we needed to get out of line! I called out to her that I would get out of line and the cop started laughing. I had known I wouldn’t make it in, but had enjoyed the experience. The picture below is right at the spot where most of the line-waiters were directed to the right. And about 10 feet from where I was thrown out of line. I had been in the line for an hour and five minutes. It was 8:25 and the Pope was coming down Fifth Avenue for a 9am mass.

I decided that I’d head north and see where I could cut east. I just wanted to see how close I could get. I had to go all the way to 57th Street, which is a major east-west thoroughfare, before I could go east. And I did.

Once I got to 5th Avenue, I could see that the route was open for standing and watching. And people had apparently been waiting for a while. I ended up at 56th Street right across from Trump Tower. Most of the people in the area were Hispanic. If I had to bet, they were South Americans and they were having a good time singing and dancing.

And they didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Below is the musical source, just a little band without any sort of amplifiers. It was wonderful. Every so often, they’d break into a chorus that the whole crowd would join in. It wasn’t Choir-like, just a bunch of people doing a familiar song.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how close I got.


Explore posts in the same categories: Celebrity Points, Events, Manhattan, Mid-town

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