Amid public outcry over news that the best spots for seeing Pope Francis in Philadelphia would require tickets that were already allotted, the World Meeting of Families announced Thursday that Francis would parade along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on both days of his visit this month.
"This will allow everyone who turns out to see him," Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting, told a hastily called news conference. She also said an additional 25,000 tickets would be made available for the pontiff's three major public appearances.
Francis' parade route on Sept. 26 will take him from Eakins Oval down the Parkway, around City Hall, and back to the Art Museum steps before his evening appearance at the Festival of Families, Farrell said.
The route in advance of his open-air Mass on Sept. 27 has not been decided, Farrell said, but she suggested it would likely be shorter to ensure that the Mass starts on time.
Papal parades during Francis' visit had long been thought likely, since they have been part of most previous World Meetings and papal visits in other cities. Farrell said the parade routes are typically announced just weeks in advance for security reasons.
Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said after the news conference that the archdiocese would not use popemobile to describe the vehicle Francis would ride in. He said the vehicle would be "appropriate" for the occasion and give Francis "broad visibility."
On Wednesday, the Secret Service announced that tickets, while free, would be needed to get close to Francis during his public appearances on Independence Mall and the Parkway.
It also said that an undisclosed number of those tickets were being distributed to the 219 parishes of the archdiocese, as well as to parishes in neighboring dioceses and the 17,000 people attending the Congress of the World Meeting immediately before the pontiff's visit.
An additional 5,000 tickets will be made available to the general public, the World Meeting announced Wednesday. It later issued reassurances that 85 percent of the spaces along the Parkway would not require tickets.
But a map it and the Secret Service released later in the day seemed to indicate that the 15 percent with tickets would have access to about half the Parkway area, closest to the stage, and that the 85 percent without tickets would be consigned to the farther half.
Francis' Sept. 26 address on Independence Mall, where he is expected to discuss immigration and the plight of migrants, is scheduled to begin about 4 p.m. The mall has space for about 30,000 people, according to organizers.
The Festival of Families later that day is estimated to draw 850,000. A street fair on the Parkway starting about 6 p.m., it will feature music, prayer, and a public appearance by Francis on a staging area near Eakins Oval.
The Sept. 27 Mass, to begin at 4 p.m., will be celebrated at an altar before Eakins Oval. Organizers estimate that between one million and 1.5 million will turn out.
Gavin said Thursday that the map the Secret Service issued Wednesday did not accurately represent the ticketed zone. Only about 31/2 blocks around 22d Street will be for ticket-holders, Gavin said.
On Wednesday, however, news of the closer, ticketed area - and the fact that tickets had already been allocated - provoked angry responses on the websites of area news organizations.
Typical was this email sent Wednesday evening to The Inquirer.
"Why wasn't this information made available earlier?" the author wrote.
"We were forced to purchase our SEPTA Papal Passes on July 20, 2015. I would not have purchased [them] if I knew I needed an additional ticket to get anywhere close to the Pope. If my only option now is to watch the Pope on a Jumbotron near City Hall I may as well stay home and watch him on my TV. Is SEPTA going to be issuing refunds for their Papal Passes? The city's handling of the preparations for the Pope's visit is atrocious."
Farrell said Thursday that her organization "heard the concern" of many such people and decided to make additional tickets available.
An additional 5,000 tickets will be made available for Francis' address on Independence Mall, bringing the total to 10,000. They will be made available online starting Tuesday.
An additional 10,000 tickets will be made available for the Festival of Families Sept. 26, she said, and 10,000 for the papal Mass on Sept. 27. These will be made available online on Wednesday.
Farrell said that details of where to go to obtain those tickets would be announced shortly and that there would be a limit of four tickets per person.
In a news release issued after the news conference, the World Meeting said Francis' public events in the Archdiocese of New York before he comes to Philadelphia would be free but ticketed, including a newly added procession through Central Park on Sept. 25.
It also noted that the papal events in Washington will also require free tickets.