Growing up, my mother used to put a lot of effort into dressing me in fancy suits for special occasions.
I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon, but every so often she would be sure the family looked like a million bucks when we had those rare grand outings.
Like the hyperactive kid that I was, these pricey suits were often dirty before we even made it to our destination.
“See, this is why we can’t have nice things,” my mother used to scold. When I reflect on the complete and utter hot mess that the papal visit planning has become, I now follow my mother’s exact sentiments.
Philly, for the love of cheesesteaks, baseball games and simple sightseeing, we are just not there yet when it comes to hosting these large-scale global events. It’s already proven to demand a massive expenditure of resources and human capital — and the city is already dreading it before it’s begun. Unlike D.C. and New York, who have had their fair share of massive events, our city just hasn’t been the type to embrace the madness.
We’re one of the poorest major cities in the country and our tight-knit circle of cultural embrace doesn’t stretch beyond the Jersey Shore. While other cities have mastered the art of planning for the Pope, we have overhyped the impact of the whole ordeal.
The city acted as though the hotels were being maxed out (there are still a good number available). Special SEPTA passes would be sold out (hundreds are still on sale) and we all heard that the number of people in the city would skyrocket (the projected estimate has dropped since then).
And while I assumed that my restaurant options this weekend would decline, there are so many of them staying open that I don’t feel so burned by it all. Meanwhile, schools and offices are closing with many Philadelphians leaving the city all together.
Perhaps what is disappointing about the Pope’s visit is that Philadelphians aren’t interested in sticking around for this monumental moment — and that’s because our officials made it more of a chore than a worthwhile time.
While visitors are excited to tour around, residents are worried about parking tickets and excessive towing. Nothing about this event feels meant for us even though we’re the ones having to suffer the consequences.
And about forking over those costs — after months of head scratching about the contracts, the World Meeting of Families have finally agreed to paying the $12 million price tag that this entire event is predicted to cost. Only $12 million?
I personally doubt it, and the estimated $500 million boost that conference officials are saying will impact Philly’s economy sounds worse than the bologna sandwich the city tried to feed us during Made in America.
Let’s just face it, this entire ordeal was just another notch to stroke the city’s ego — but will be another headache Philadelphians will have to endure yet again. We’re just still not ready for such nice things, and that’s worthy of a prayer.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect those of Metro US.