So this was my itinerary..
3:10 a.m. – Wake up. I was so excited I bounded out of bed. Why can’t I do that every morning?
4:15 a.m. – Catch a Long Island Rail Road train to NYC. To my amazement and astonishment there were drunk loud people on the train. Coming to LI from NYC I could understand but the reverse had me confused. And annoyed. People carrying beer bottles and drinking from them at that hour of the morning was just appalling. Couple that with the fact that they were loud as all get out and it was an uncomfortable ride.
5:25 a.m. – Arrive at quiet Penn Station. I proceed to walk to the check-in point at 51st and 6th Ave. It’s a 17 block walk. I used to do it every day since we were lining up in front of the building I used to work in. I enjoy the city in the early hours. It’s quiet and still lit up.
5:45 a.m. – I arrive about a block and a half away from the check-in point. This is the end of the line to check in. Check in time is 6:00 so these people must have already been waiting for hours. We were told not to bring food or drink. Since I did not want to wake my family, in particular the twins, by banging around the kitchen, I did not make coffee. There is no where to buy coffee in my one-horse-village at 4:00 a.m. and there is nothing open in Penn Station at 5:30. I am desperately in need of caffeine but offer it up for Our Holy Father.
6:00 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot.
6:15 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot.
6:30 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot. There are thousands of NYC police officers around.
6:45 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot. Back starts to hurt.
7:00 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot. Am now really, really cold.
7:30 a.m. – Still waiting, same spot.
7:45 a.m. – We are herded up to 50th street in batches of about 200 people. The police check tickets and they were a herded (there really is no other word for it) up to Rockefeller Plaza. There we wait to go through the metal detectors. Rock Plaza looks beautiful all dolled up for spring. There are tons of flowers in carts waiting to be planted for the annual spring flower show. The air is heady with lilac and hyacinth, roses and tulips.
8:20 a.m. – I finally make it to the metal detectors (there were, about, 25,000 people and two metal detectors :(). There my purse is searched, they actually dumped it out and tore through everything. I am wanded and told to run (yes, they said run) to 5th Ave. There I was directed to a spot about half a block from the Cathedral on the same side of it directly in front of Saks Fifth Avenue. Heaven in both a spiritual and material sense. 🙂
The police did a fine job of making sure the areas partitioned off for spectators did not become too crowded. It was tight but you could move.
There was a crowd of teenage girls directly opposite me on Fifth. They all looked lovely wearing skirts and just looking happy. They looked all to be from the same school and all new each other. They also had a crowd across on my side closer to Saint Patrick’s than I was. I think they must have had a long bus ride because they had made up all of these Pope Benedict cheers. Some in Latin. It was so cute and such a breath of fresh air to see all of these young people cheering for our Holy Father. They did a back and forth cheer, then to the "We Will, We Will Rock You" tune they sang, "We Love, We Love, Pope BenEdict". Then they had NYC Police officers running lists back and forth across the street of songs to sing. They sang the Ave Maria and some other beautiful Latin hymns that I was unfamiliar with. In the end they had the entire bock cheering with them.
9:05 a.m. – We hear the roar of the motorcade. There were the motorcycle officers, and then there was the Papal limousine. He was just visible through the tinted glass. A big smile and waving. Then he was gone and pulled up in front of the Cathedral. As I looked up at the Jumbotron to see him emerge a huge vehicle parked directly in front of me blocking my view. He was followed by several others blocking the view for the whole block.
That was it.
I couldn’t see another thing.
My two options were; stay there until after Mass and after the Pope had lunch with Cardinal Egan. About 1:00 p.m. the Popemobile was supposed to come to Fifth Ave and pick him up.
Or I could leave and go home. You could not leave and return.
Guess what my frigid feet and aching back demanded?
So here are the pcitures…
Police on every rooftop.
The limo is behind the SUV
There is the Holy Father in the back. About five feet from me.
This is the honking big thing that then parked right in front of me. What the heck is it anyway?
That’s Officer Rosa. She was very nice. She was also cold.
I ran down to the end of the street and managed to get two pictures of Pope Benedict kneeling in prayer on the Jumbotron.
I have to admit to being disappointed that I did not get a better view of the Holy Father but it was really exciting to be a tiny part of this historic and deeply moving moment. I was all choked up when he passed and so was the lady next to me.
I have to give a HUGE blog round of applause to everyone who had anything to do with organizing this. The NYC Police, of course, are always to be commended for their courteous and diligent service to the city and all of it’s people. The Diocese, the secret service and whoever else was involved. I can’t imagine how momunental the organization of this was and it ran like clockwork. I would like to talk to the driver of that huge black monstrosity parked in front of me though ;).
After I snapped those last two pictures I left the area, grabbed a much needed cup of coffee (four and a half hours after getting up! I rarely wait four minutes for my cuppa!) and headed back to Penn Station for a much quieter (Thanks be to God) ride home.
So that was my Papal experience. I’m so glad I went. Now I need to warm up, I feel as if I’m chilled to the core, and get ready for the busy day we have planned for tomorrow. Aa baseball game, a soccer game and Erin’s birthday party.
Have a blessed day.