The greatest moment for the Mayor of Philadelphia during the papal visit was seeing his mother, a devout Catholic, on the front row during the outdoor mass.
Mr. Michael A. Nutter was an altar boy in elementary school and his mother, who watches all of his press conferences and sends him email messages with constructive criticism, is a devout Catholic.
So as you can imagine, when Mr. Nutter was able to provide his mother, and her twin sister, a front row seat to see The Pope perform an outdoor mass over the weekend in Center City Philadelphia, he was filled with emotions – mainly pride and joy – and she “busted into tears,” he said, as he appeared to hold back his own while telling the story.
“That was the most special moment of the weekend,” Mr. Nutter told me during the 11th papal visit press briefing at City Hall, which was open to essential personnel only.
“This was a weekend of moments,” said Mrs. Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director, World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.
Mrs. Farrell had a list of her own unbelievable moments, but the one she shared with the Mayor was at the airport on Saturday morning.
“Seeing the airplane door open and coming to grips with the fact that he’s here… that was pretty special,” said Mayor Nutter, who met Pope Francis twice before, both times in Rome, Italy.
Another special moment, noted by the Mayor, was seeing and hearing Pope Francis deliver a speech in Old City using the same lectern as Mr. Abraham Lincoln.
“That was pretty powerful,” said Mayor Nutter.
The largest World Meeting of Families came and went, as is the case with history.
“I was there, it was phenomenal,” said Mrs. Farrell, who counted roughly 20,000 people who attended the actual World Meeting of Families Conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
After 250,000 bottles of water provided to the public, close to 600 vehicles relocated, and more than 100 transports to hospitals, the City is returning back to “whatever normal is,” said the Mayor, who, like everyone he stood with today, was tired.
It’s too early to see what the economic impact of this event was for the City, but Mayor Nutter said the gathering was never billed as a “money maker,” and said the success of the event should be measured in the safety and fun had by those who attended.
The number of attendees has yet to be confirmed, said the Mayor, who empathized to the media that he never quoted an exact number of expected pilgrims, but rather an estimate of 1 to 1.5 million people.
“We always gave a range, never a specific number,” said Mayor Nutter, who got so frustrated with the media and their attempt to trip him up on attendance, that he lashed out, calling the majority of the papal visit reporting “detrimental to the mindset of many Philadelphians” and said the media “scared the sh*t out of people.”
“Well, that’s how he feels,” said Mr. Vincent Thompson, Principal, Thompson Mediaman Communications and Executive Producer for The Nick Taliaferro Show, heard exclusively on 900am WURD at 4pm Monday through Thursday and 5pm on Fridays.
Mr. Thompson wouldn’t agree or disagree with the Mayor’s assertion, but he did say that media outlets need to do a review of their papal visit coverage.
Mr. Thompson—who covered the World Meeting of Families at the request of Radio Pennsylvania, but also filed daily reports with 900am WURD—was thirteen years of age the last time a Pope visited Philadelphia.
He remembers the media spectacle, and this time around, he was blessed to be a part it. Mr. Thompson’s magical moment, however, didn’t happen during the Pope’s visit, it took place just days before his arrival.
It was a Thursday and he had been introduced to the voice of Vatican Radio: an African man, Catholic in faith, who spoke fluent Italian.
Mr. Thompson, whose main goal at the conference was to inquire how Black Catholics were impacted by the meeting and it’s message, not only landed an interview with the broadcaster, but was able to conduct the interview in the sacred Vatican radio booth, using their equipment—a well-oiled press machine, Mr. Thompson called it—to transmit the signal.
Ms. Denise Clay, a journalist now serving as the editor of an online publication, also covered the event along with Mr. Thompson and though she was quite vocal in her displeasure of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge being shut down, she can at least acknowledge that Mayor Nutter, a son of West Philadelphia who grew up during Philly’s most dangerous era, did something great for the City by securing Pope Francis’ attendance.
“Michael Nutter is going to be the Jimmy Carter of Philly Mayor’s, meaning no one is going to appreciate anything he did until he’s long gone,” said Ms. Clay.
* Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening at 6:30pm to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™