Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 30

The Daily Numbers: 20 million dollar makeover on tap for the old Granite Run Mall. Brace yourself for the “Promenade at Granite Run.”

58 acres that will become a town center style development of retail sites, restaurants and residential use.

2 anchor stores, Sears and Bosvov’s, will remain as part of the site.

2 4-story apartment buildings that will be part of the plan.

172 unit apartment building that will sit where the old Chi-Chi’s restaurant was on Route 352.

210 unit apartment building on Oriole Avenue side of the tract.

15, age of student who brought toy gun into Chester High yesterday.

1 hour lockdown as a result.

400 to 800 students if the Delaware County Intermediate Unit gets the OK for an expansion of their Aston campus.

31 percentage point drop for Pa students on the math portion of standardized testing.

9 point drop on the English test.

7 area schools that were awarded Blue Ribbon status by the U.S. Department of Education, including Radnor Middle School.

5,300 bike rides recorded by bike-sharing service Indego on Sunday when many streets in Center City Philadelphia were closed.

4,900 shared rides on Saturday.

2 Eagles whose seasons are now over after being placed on injured reserve. Kicker Cody Parkey and right guard Andrew Gardner are on the shelf.

4-3 win for the Phils over the division-winning Mets last night.

3-run home for Darin Ruf. That’s No. 12 on the season for Ruf.

11-game road winning streak for the Mets snapped in the loss.

97 losses and holding for Phils as they try to avoid a 100-loss season.

5 games left in the season.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Yes, it’s hard to swallow the fact that Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are headed back to the playoffs wearing Dodger blue while the Phillies struggle to avoid a 100-loss season. The Dodgers won the NL West for the 3rd straight year.

I Don’t Get It: Taking a toy gun to school. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Cardinal O’Hara Band, who provided the music for Pope Francis’ farewell and exit at Philadelphia International Airport.

Quote Box: “This is a horrendous message to send to this community.”

- Chester Police Superintendent Joe Bail, or minimal charges police can bring against teen who brought toy gun to Chester High.

A big thumb's up to the O'Hara band

After a glorious weekend of events swirling around the historic two-day visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia, there was one item that left a bad taste in my mouth.

It didn't have anything to do with security, a "traffic box," lower than expected attendance, or a bust for business.

At the end of the day on Sunday, as Pope Francis prepared to board his plane and depart for Rome, I have to admit I felt bad for the Cardinal O'Hara Band.

Maybe I'm making too much of this, but it seems to be they got short-shrift during the farewell ceremonies at the airport.

For some reason, officials felt the need to hold still one more reception and long line of well-wishers to see the pope off. Mayor Michael Nutter was there, as was Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady was on hand, and even managed to "confess" to the pontiff that, yes indeed it was him who absconded with the pope's water glass after his historic address to a joint meeting of Congress. There were various and sundry World Meeting of Families folks and a bunch of other VIPs.

In the meantime, the kids from Cardinal O'Hara were out on the tarmac, providing the musical backdrop for the occasion. As darkness descended on the airport, they seemed relegated to obscurity.

Compare this to the role played by the Bishop Shanahan Band for the pope's arrival. They had the good fortune of getting the morning shift. They were on hand when Pope Francis arrived from New York City bright and early Saturday morning. The moment was made even more dramatic when the pope stopped his Fiat so he could get out and embrace the son of the Shanahan band director, who is confined to a wheelchair as he struggles with cerebral palsy. I still think it was the single best highlight of the weekend.

There was no such papal interaction for the kids from O'Hara. After the reception in the hangar, Pope Francis made his way out to his plane, where still one more greeting line formed to see him off.

That's one of the reasons I wanted to have a reporter check back with the O'Hara kids to get their reaction to the honor of playing for the pontiff. You can read the story here.

As you might expect, they took it in stride.

"They were so happy to just be there and be part of the atmosphere, to get all the attention and have their friends and family see them on TV," said O'Hara band director Nick Corvino.

They did get a visit from Donna Crilley Farrell, the executive director of the World Meeting of Families, and herself a Springfield reisdent and O'Hara alum.

"It was such an honor to even be invited," Corvino added.

I admire that attitude. Maybe I'm just more in tune to it since they are all Delco kids. I just wanted to be surer the band members from O'Hara were not an afterthought.

Well done, kids.

Streets without cars: An idea whose time has come

It's the popular thing to do after a major event.

They continue to count the winners and losers from the historic week in Philadelphia with the World Meeting of Families, culminating in the two-day visit by Pope Francis.

Our columnist Chris Freind weighs in here.

On our editorial page, we take note of Mayor Nutter's now-infamous use of an expletive as he pointed a finger at the media for scaring people away. Really, Mr. Mayor? We're not buying it, not when you and others spent weeks issuing dire warnings about long walks and other security precautions.

Even with that, we're wiling to give the mayor a pass for dropping the S-word. Hey, it was a long week. He was probably tired. Stuff happens.

But there is one element of the lockdown that we found appealing, and worthy of further experimenting. Yes, it causes some inconveniences, but the look and feel of some streets with no traffic on them is very appealing.

One of the neatest things about the entire week was seeing those big chunks of Center City with no vehicular traffic. Suddenly, this is what a truly walkable environment looks like.

One of my goals in life (aside from breaking 80 on the golf course) is to live somewhere that does not require me to get into my car for just about everything.

I would have loved to have been able to walk all those empty city streets, or even take a leisurely stroll over the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Are we that married to our cars? Is there any reason why, maybe once a month, a certain street or bridge is closed down to vehicle traffic. I think it was one of the best parts of the weekend, and one not only Philly but lots of municipalities across the region should consider.

Look how successful Dining Under the Stars has been here in Media. Every Wednesday night all summer, they completely shut down State Street, including SEPTA's trolley line, and let the town's many fine eateries set up tables in the middle of the street. It's a unique look and feel that plays a huge part in the "hip" image Media always projects.

I think it's one more towns should consider.

Chase, J-Roll & Dodgers head for playoffs while Phils struggle to avert century mark

Here's something to ease the pain for Phillies fans as they come to grip with the news from last night that the Dodgers wrapped up the NL West crown. Yes, that means Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are going back to the playoffs, only this time wearing Dodger blue. Still, I have to tip my cap to Pete Mackanin and this reconstructed Phillies lineup.

No, it has not been a great season. Far from it.

But they're not laying down in the last week of this putrid season.

The Phillies are sitting at 97 losses, and it's pretty clear that they've made it their mission to avoid hitting the dubious century mark for L's.

Last night Darin Ruf hit a three-run bomb in the first inning to stake the Phils to an early lead, and they hung on to beat the division-winning Mets, 403. Odubel Herrera continues to open eyes, going 4-for-4 to raise his average to .293. David Buchanan gave another respectable outing.

The Phillies have five games remaining on their schedule, all right here in the comfy confines of Citizens Bank Park. They need to win three of them to avert 100 losses.

They also are neck-and-neck with the Braves for the worst record in Major League Baseball. Any combination of three Phils' losses and Braves' wins will lock up the cellar for the Phillies.

Of course, the consolation prize is the No. 1 pick in next year's draft.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Sept. 29

Today we relinquish the column to AP for a recap on the visit to Philadelphia by Pope Francis, by the numbers:

The Daily Numbers: 850,000 the popular number being cited for attendance at the Sunday Mass on the Parkway. Organizers were predicting more than 500,000 for Saturday’s concert celebration and more than 1 million for Sunday’s Mass. Official figures haven’t been released.

$45 million was the fundraising goal for the event’s organizers at the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families conference.

$12 million will go to the city for policing, traffic and crowd control, fire and emergency medical response, emergency management, streets and sanitation.

9 million spent by the state in federal funding on National Guard personnel.

9,900 of downtown’s 11,200 hotel rooms were booked.

62,946 rose SEPTA’s regional rails on the weekend.

28,575 Saturday

34,371 Sunday.

65,000 people head into the city on an average weekday.

123,000 of 328,000 of those special papal passes for use on the rails sold by SEPTA.

51,922 (about 23,000 on Saturday, 29,000 on Sunday) on the PATCO High Speed Line from southern New Jersey compared to 12,000 riders on an average Saturday. 17,000 of 75,000 weekend passes sold by PATCO while also accepting regular passes.

40,000 passengers rode SEPTA’s Broad Street line to South Philadelphia after Sunday’s Mass, compared to about 125,000 for all trips on the line on an average weekday.

13,000 trips on the city’s Indego bike-sharing service (2,900 Friday, 4,900 Saturday and 5,300 Sunday). Usual ridership over those three days of the week is about 6,000.

25 miles of highways closed in the Philadelphia area.

4.7 square mile area of the city where vehicles were restricted from entering.

591 vehicles towed out of the vehicle-free zone.

71 local, state and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies involved in weekend security.

300 pieces of heavy equipment.

6,000 National Guard soldiers and thousands of Philadelphia police officers and firefighters on duty.

423 medical cases treated at 10 first-aid stations, 129 of them resulted in hospitalization.

100 ambulances and more than 1,000 emergency medical personnel brought in; lower-than-average volume at city emergency rooms.

3 arrests, including “one complete idiot” who allegedly tried bringing a large bag of illegal drugs through a security checkpoint.

69,000 meals served to first responders.

250,000 bottles of water given out to pilgrims by Philadelphia-area convenience store chain Wawa.

0 Philly signatured cheesesteaks eaten by Pope Francis, according to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who noted the pontiff’s room was stocked with other Philadelphia treats, but it’s unclear if he ate them.

12 babies kissed by Pope Francis, and likely even more, including one dressed like Pope Francis.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Who is this guy masquerading as Sam Bradford? Where is the guy who looked so good in the preseason?

I Don’t Get It: The Monday morning quarterbacking concerning the Sunday outdoor Mass and all the security personnel is in overdrive.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the law enforcement personnel who offered for the most part courteous reminders all weekend to be safe.

Quote Box: “I’ll more than likely get a very timely and terse email from my mother.”

- Mayor Michael Nutter, after using the S-word in describing some media reporting as scaring people away from the city for the pope weekend.

Holy S#$%*!

I write headlines for a living.

It's the way I'm wired. I hear a story and immediately the tumblers start clicking in my head. I've spent years breaking down the most complex stories imaginable into four words or less. Sometimes it's only one word.

One of the best headlines I've ever written was not even a word, it was a play off an acronym. When Pennsylvania executed the first inmate in decades a few years back, this is the headline that appeared on the front page of the Daily Times the next day:

R.I.Pa.

So when I heard Mayor Nutter drop an expletive yesterday in describing some of the reporting that he blamed for scaring people away from the city during the momentous World Meeting of Families and the historic visit by Pope Francis, my mind immediately started thinking of a headline.

Nutter was looking to put a different spin on what some were interpreting at numbers that didn't match the hype and businesses complaining of a lack of customers.

"I think that in some instances you people scared the s--- out of people," Nutter told the assembled ink-stained wretches yesterday at the perfunctory day-after press conference.

The headline came to me immediately. The mayor drops the S-word at a post-papal press conference. This one's too easy:

Holy S#%&!

So much for the "family-friendly" review of the World Meeting of Families week.

I don't agree with what Mayor Nutter said. It was the mayor and other officials who for weeks warned people of long walks, traffic boxes, security perimeters and all other kinds of warnings. It was only when a backlash started that city officials and World Meeting of Families execs tried to put a softer, friendlier face on the event. They dropped all references to the security zone and traffic box and started referring to the Francis Festival Grounds.

I'm going to give Mayor Nutter the benefit of the doubt. He even revisited what he apologetically referred to as his "intemperate" remark and admitted he was expecting a note of admonishment from his mother.

Maybe Nutter was channeling his inner Mike Schmidt. The Phillies icon and all-time home run king was fond of describing playing in Philadelphia as "the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day."

Mayor Nutter and World Meeting of Families officials deserve credit for a fantastic week. No one seems to be exactly sure how many people packed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday. Does it really matter? The event, and the entire week, put the city on an international stage. And it's fair to say the place was radiant.

Yes, there were issues with what some refer to as "overkill" in terms of preparation and road closures. Long lines snarled thousands trying to get through security checkpoints on Sunday. Some businesses report that instead of a bonanza they took a bath because of all the street closures.

We prefer to look at the positive. The city is likely to bask in the spotlight of a massive, incident-free extravaganza for years. Even Pope Francis noted that all families have their issues.

So did this one.

Or, as Mayor Nutter might say, spit happens.

Free coffee today at Wawa

Forget the pope.

Wawa is the patron saint of journalists, at least those of us always Jones-ing for a cup of coffee.

Our favorite Delco convenience store is celebrating National Coffee Day by offering free coffee all day.

That's right, you can get a free coffee, any size, all day today at Wawa. Why do I get the feeling they should stock up on jumbo cups?

I visit our local Wawa here in Primos every day at lunchtime for a 12-ounce cup to go with lunch. I think I will upsize today.

Raise your hand if you plan to visit more than one Wawa today? Thought so.

The problem with the Eagles

Now that we have all recovered from Pope-mania, it's time to return to the serious issues of the day.

Like the Eagles.

They managed to scratch out a win against the Jets, thanks in large part to Darren Sproles. His electrifying punt return might just have provided the spark this team needs to reverse its fortunes after a disappointing 0-2 start.

But this team still has problems, not helped by news reports that they may have lost their starting kicker and right guard to injury.

Cody Parkey and Andrew Gardner may be lost for the season.

But I don't think that's their biggest problem.

This team is only going to go as far as Sam Bradford takes them. And right now, it appears he can only take them 5-10 yards at a time. Bradford is quickly becoming the king of the dink and dunk.

He looks tentative, unsure of himself and rattled in the pocket. He's not getting a lot of help from his receivers, who continue to drop balls at an alarming rate. More importantly, none of them seem particularly adept at shedding press coverage. And they lack the sheer speed to provide much of a deep threat.

The result. Teams are packing the line of scrimmage and daring the Eagles to run the ball, seemingly not concerned in the least at a deep threat.

Bradford does not appear to be the same QB who looked so supremely confident in the preseason, leading the Eagles offense to touchdown in all four of the series in which he appeared. Which I guess tells you exactly how much stock you can put in preseason games.

Part of this is rust; Bradford has not played in almost two full years. Part of it is all the new faces that coach Chip Kelly brought in during a tumultuous offseason. Part of it likely is the group not getting enough snaps together in the preseason.

Of course, this has led to calls for Mark Sanchez to take over the struggling offense.

Here's what we know. Sanchez is not the answer. Bradford might be, but he's not right now.

For this team to make a playoff run, that has to change. Not by inserting Sanchez. By building Bradford's confidence and getting him back to the player who looked so sharp in the preseason.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Sept. 28

The Daily Numbers: 800,000 who packed the Ben Franklin Parkway for yesterday’s Mass by Pope Francis. Several thousand people were unable to get in through long lines at security checkpoints.

100,000 Communion wafers distributed during the Mass.

7:47 p.m., when the pope’s jet lifted off from Philadelphia International Airport.

1 more surprise stop for the pope, this time at St. Joseph’s University, to bless a new statue commemorating relations between Catholics and Jews.

100 inmates at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Center who got the opportunity to meet the pope.

5 adult victims of priest sexual abuse who got the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis.

328,000 passes for the regional rail lines that SEPTA put on sale.

123,295 actually sold.

28,575 regional rail riders on Saturday.

34,371 on Sunday.

700 Saturday from Primos Station.

850 on Sunday.

3 a.m., when the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which had been closed all weekend, finally reopened.

8 p.m.,
when Schuylkill Expressway westbound reopened from I-95 to Route 1.

11:05, when eastbouind I-76 reopened from the Blue Route I-476 to I-95

3 hours, how long some waited in lines to get through the checkpoints.

78-year-old pontiff spent 6 days in the U.S. after 4-day visit in Cuba.

400 leaders of the World Meeting of Families gathered at the airport after the Mass to bid Pope Francis Farewell.

2018, next World Meeting of Families, set for Dublin, Ireland.

13,000 mile trip made by a family from Argentina in an old VW van to see the pope. They got the chance to meet him.

19, age of female student from Penn State killed in crash while driving back to State College after taking part in THON charity work in Philly area.

6 other Penn State students injured in the crash.

1-2 record for the Eagles after yesterday’s win.

24-17 win for the Birds over the Jets up at the Meadowlands.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it. No, not the security lines to get in to see the pope. The Eagles, of course.

I Don’t Get It: Everyone can now nitpick the preparations for the pope. Seemed to go off pretty well to me.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to quickly getting roads reopened and transit back to normal across the region.

Quote Box: “Pray for me. Don’t forget.”

- Pope Francis

Pope Weekend: One moment stands above the others

It was an epic weekend, full of moments that filled our hearts with joy - and our eyes with tears.

But for me, there was one moment that stood above the others.

It involved a young man struggling with cerebral palsy, and the magnificence of a pontiff who at every step proved that he is in fact "The People's Pope."

It's in my weekly print column.

Pope Weekend: An unusual alliance in Primos

We had company for the weekend.

No, not at home.

I spent most of the weekend here in Primos monitoring developments tied to the visit by Pope Francis. We had a full team of reporters and editors under the direction of Vince Carey downtown covering this historic event. They were part of thousands of journalists from around the globe who found their way to Philadelphia to cover the final events of the Pope's historic week-long visit to the U.S. Here in Primos, we shared our front office and front parking lot with the good men and women of the Upper Darby police force, along with a crew of emergency services workers.

They could not have been nicer.

Sometimes the relationship between the press and police can get a little testy. We're naturally at odds. We're trying to uncover information. They don't always want to give it out. Sometimes we butt heads.

But a few months ago, when officials from Upper Darby first reached out to me after receiving word that Primos Station would be one of only 18 stations on SEPTA's regional rail lines to be utilized to ferry the thousands of pilgrims into the city to see the pontiff, I decided to reach out.

Our plant is literally right next door to the train station, which is just a block away on Oak Avenue.

The point person for the Upper Darby police here in Primos, Capt. Tom Johnson, sat down with me and went over what they needed. They utilized the front parking lot as a staging point for many of their vehicles. They were able to set up a command center in our front office, which holds our Classified Advertising Department, but which is empty on weekends.

I was here early both Saturday and Sunday to act as a liaison for them.

I spent much of both mornings walking down Cottonwood Lane, the little street that runs from Oak Avenue back to our plant, and keeping tabs on what was going on at the Primos Train Station.

I made sure to tell the many police officers, SEPTA workers and others to make the Daily Times building their home for the weekend. And yes, that meant being able to use the, ahem, facilities when nature called.

Our nice neighbors at our little Wawa on Oak Avenue as well as across the street at Giant got into the act, offering "Pope-alicious" donuts and pretzels to those arriving at the train station. As you can see in the photo, it was much appreciated.

The truth is that on Saturday we were underwhelmed at the number of people who boarded trains at the station. Only about 700 people got on trains at the station on Saturday, less even than the number of special regional rail passes SEPTA sold.

Things picked up a bit on Sunday, but in general I would say it was still less than what was initially expected.

When SEPTA first announced that they planned to use Primos Station, they estimated that 10,000 people would swarm the station both days. That didn't happen. Really didn't even come close.

Upper Darby police, who first envisioned shutting down Oak Avenue, instead simply did traffic control. Both Cottonwood and Mildred, which runs back to our plant from Providence Road, were close.

No, it was not the kind of numbers we expected. I still don't think it could have gone much better.

And I was happy to offer a little bit of hospitality to our friends on the Upper Darby police.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Live Pope Blog: The Sunday Edition

3:50 p.m.: Pope made one more stop on his way to the outdoor Mass on the Parkway, stopping at the 'knot grotto' at cathedral and hugging Sister Mary Scullion.

Here's the AP report:

Pope Francis has exited his popemobile to visit a "knot grotto" that is based on one of his favorite paintings and lets visitors acknowledge the challenges in their daily lives.

The installation built next to Philadelphia's Roman Catholic cathedral is inspired by a painting called "Mary, Undoer of Knots" that holds special meaning for the pope.

The artwork shows Mary untangling a long ribbon — a symbol for smoothing life's difficulties.

The painting hangs in a church in Augsburg, Germany, where then-Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio saw it while studying in the mid-1980s.

He brought back copies to Argentina, where it became a major source of devotion.

People were invited to write down their own problems on ribbons tied to the grotto. They were also encouraged to help others by loosening and removing a knot already in place.

3:30 p.m.: Pope Francis stopped on the campus of St. Joe's University to bless a new statue honoring the relationship between Jews and Catholics.

Here's the AP report:

Pope Francis has blessed a new statue honoring the relationship between Catholics and Jews.

Francis stopped at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia on his way back to the city before celebrating Mass in front of a massive crowd Sunday afternoon.

The sculpture was unveiled Friday and commemorates the 50th anniversary of a document that urged stronger relations between the two religions. Francis was joined by his longtime friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

Francis is traveling downtown and will transfer to the popemobile for a procession along the parkway to the altar in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Up to a million people or more are expected to crowd into the area for the Mass, and many reported waiting for hours to pass through security checkpoints.

2:35: Photographer Pete Bannan with evidence of five-block line to get through security on 21st street as huge throng shows up in Center City Philadelphia for papal Mass.

2:10 p.m.: Here is what AP is saying about the long lines at security checkpoints to get into papal Mass in Philly:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Tens of thousands of people are enduring hourslong waits to pass through security checkpoints for the papal Mass in downtown Philadelphia.

Lines stretch for several blocks to enter the secure zone on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Most pilgrims took the wait in stride, though some who grew impatient jumped over concrete barriers to get out of line and try their luck at other checkpoints.

Organizers expect 1 million people for the 4 p.m. Mass.

Officials have said the parkway itself can hold only about 250,000. But they say hundreds of thousands more will be able to watch the Mass on gigantic video screens set up on side streets and in other parts of the city.

Organizers have begun making adjustments to security checkpoints to ease wait times for people waiting in lines that stretch for several blocks.

One security checkpoint that had been reserved for pilgrims with tickets to the best seats for the papal Mass in downtown Philadelphia has been opened to the general public.

But wait times varied greatly, with some attendees reporting long waits behind thousands of people, while others sailed through different checkpoints.

A family who took the bus from Baltimore Sunday morning said they expected to wait as long as 90 minutes. Fifteen-year-old Matthew Stambaugh shrugged it off, saying, "it's worth it."

The 4 p.m. Mass is expected to draw more than 1 million people.

2:00 p.m.: The word of the day is lines. Reports indicate people are standing in security checkpoints for more than an hour to get through magnetometer. Looks like huge turnout and security struggling to keep up.

1:20 p.m.: This just in: Pope Francis will be paying a visit to the campus of St. Joseph's University this afternoon before heading downtown for the outdoor Mass on the Parkway:

From AP:

Pope Francis will visit a sculpture dedicated to the 50th anniversary of a document calling for a strong relationship between Catholics and Jews.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis will see the sculpture commemorating the Nostra Aetate at Saint Joseph's University on his way back to the city before celebrating Mass in front of a massive crowd Sunday afternoon.

The sculpture was unveiled on Friday at a ceremony that included an address from Rabbi Abraham Skorka. Skorka is a longtime friend of the pope and Argentina's most famous rabbi.

12:50 p.m.: Time for the biggest decision of the day. No, I'm not going downtown at the last second for the Mass. Stick with coverage of the pope or flip over to Eagles game on TV ... Bless me father, for I have sinned...
12:45: This is the big draw at the 69th Street Terminal. Taking a picture with the life-size cutout of Pope Francis. This is Marcella Kartiki, 43, with daughter Dede Kartiki, 4.

12:45 p.m.: Numbers continue to grow for ridership at Primos Station. Staff writer Alex Rose reports SEPTA's official count was at 740 at 11 a.m. That's still less than half of the total 2,000 expected for the day, according to Sgt. Milt Richardson with SEPTA Transit Police.

Richardson said the station saw a total 640 people Saturday, with a larger police presence. He reported no issues accommodating the pilgrims Sunday and described the morning’s departures as uneventful.

“They’re just looking forward to going downtown for a chance to see the pope,” he said.

Trains were leaving about every half hour, with the last due to depart at 12:18 p.m.

Thanks for Aldan Police Chief Ken Coppola for the photos.

11:20 a.m.: Yesterday a total of 700 people boarded trains at Primos Station. Today they've already gone above that numbers. Indicative more people are headed downtown for the Mass on the Parkway. Weather is holding up as well. It's just gorgeous out right now.

11:10 a.m.: Delco Council Chairman Mario Civera was on the executive board for the World Meeting of Families. It's paying off today with a prized seat for the papal Mass on the Parkway. Here's our story.

10:50 a.m.: Just had my second visit of the day from Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie and Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood. They report much heavier volume of travelers at 69th Street Station and that numbers are beginning to pick up at Primos Station as well. So who wants to take a guess on attendance at today's Mass. This photo shows what it looked like when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the Parkway back in 1979. I'll put the over/under line at 1 million. I'm taking the under. What do you say?

10:30 a.m.: Here's a report from 69th Street. Same restrictions in place as yesterday. Heavier traffic being reported than yesterday. Most "pope-ular" thing in the Terminal? People taking pictures with life-size cutout of the pope. Might be as close as they get to him today.

9:50 a.m.: Something the pope said yesterday has stayed with me. He seemed to make a point that you can be spiritual, even religious outside trappings of a formal place of worship. As someone who struggles at times with his faith, this struck home to me. Anyone else feel the same way?

9:45 a.m.: Looks like we have an answer to our earlier question about the V-22 Ospreys. Looks like they will transport Pope Francis to his next stop Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. Pride of Delco, the V-22 is a Boeing product made in part right here in Ridley Township.

9:40 a.m.: Word coming that Pope Francis met with five adult victims of child sexual abuse at 8 a.m. at St. Charles Borromeo. Archbishop Charles Chaput was at the meeting. The pontiff told the victims, and reiterated in his speech, that "the guilty shall be punished."

9:25 a.m.: Our live blog is up and running on DelcoTimes.com. Our team of reporters will be giving you live updates all day from Center City, including the outdoor Mass on the Parkway. And we want you to be part of our coverage. Tweet with the hashtag #popedfm and you will be included in the blog.

9:10 a.m.: Pope Francis is addressing bishops at the chapel at St. Charles Borromeo. Used this spot to address issue of sexual abuse of children, something that has been at the foremost of the problems faced by the Philadelphia Archdiocese. You can hear a pin drop in the place.

9 a.m.: Pope Francis is up and at 'em as he meets with international and U.S. bishops and guests at the chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminiary.

9:45: Facebook friend reports a group of 6 V-22 Ospreys just flew over her house out in Bethel. Wonder if that is part of pope security concerns.

8:10 a.m.: These three ladies are headed downtown to see Pope Francis. They were among the very few riders getting on board trains at the Primos Station so far today. From left are Cathy Franklin of Clifton Heights; Janice Puggi of Springfield; and Marie Jeffers of Drexel Hill. All three said they were not sure how close they would actually be able to get to the pope, but were just "thrilled" to have the opportunity.

7:45 a.m.: Still not much in the way of ridership at Primos Station. Here's an early look at what it was like at Media Station. Pretty much the same story. Very few riders taking early trains.

6:45 a.m.: Daylight has arrived at Primos Station. But not many train riders. The place is still pretty much deserted. Maybe it's going to be a late-arriving crowd. Of course, that's what I said yesterday as well. <>/p>
6:25 a.m.: It was the same refrain heard over and over again yesterday at the 18 train stations on SEPTA's regional rail lines on Saturday ferrying pilgrims into the city for Day One of Pope Francis' visit.

Where is everybody?

The turnout across the system was underwhelming.

Here in Primos, where they sold 1,750 Saturday passes, only about 700 people actually boarded trains.

SEPTA officials had set up a long cattle chute that basically went from Oak Avenue all the way back on Cottonwood Lane to the entrance of the Daily Times plant. The idea was to have people dropped off at Providence Road, walk up Mildred and then enter the cattle chute. It wasn't needed. I didn't see a line all day, let alone one that would stretch for a block. I felt bad for the people who got dropped off on Oak Avenue, who actually had to walk all the way back to the start of the chute to go through the SEPTA check and get in line to board the train.

Numbers were down across the system.

At Media Station, the only other station operating on the R3 Media-Elwyn line, slightly more than 1,300 people boarded, even though 3,428 passes had been sold.

In Marcus Hook on the Wilmington Line, a scant 146 people got on trains.

Out on the Main Line, where the biggest crunch was expected, the huge numbers never materialized. At Paoli Station, 3,500 boarded trains, about half the number of passes sold. In Radnor, another 3,300 people boarded trains.

SEPTA and police officials are expecting those numbers to grow today, as people look to go into the city for the outdoor Mass on the Parkway.

6 a.m.: Of course the one thing everyone wants to know as we head into a historic Sunday in Philadelphiais: What about the weather? Actually, it looks like the million or so folks who will gather on the Ben Franklin Parkway for an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Francis might get a break. The heavy rain that's been deluging the South looks like it's going to stay south of us. It will be cloudy and cool, with a high of 73 and a chance of rain. Here's the full forecast.

5:50 a.m.: Here's the schedule for Sunday leading up to the historic outdoor papal Mass on Eakins Oval, expected to draw as many as 1 million people.

SUNDAY

• 9:15 a.m.: Meeting with international bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

• 11 a.m.: Visit prisoners and families at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Holmesburg.

• Will take part in 2nd Papal Parade in the Afternoon on the Parkway, with exact time to be determined.

• 4 p.m.: Celebrates Mass at Eakins Oval. As many as a million expected to attend.

• 8 p.m.: Departs from Philadelphia International Airport.

5:20 a.m.: Here they are, the first group of hearty pilgrims waiting for the first train out of Primos Station. They also were the first group to board Saturday. They told me they came out of the city last night about 9 p.m. and they confirmed something I noticed from watching TV. It was not that crowded downtown.

A SEPTA official put the official count of train riders from Primos yesterday at about 700.

They are expecting more than that today for the Papal Mass.

5:10 a.m.: Here is our front page from today's historic coverage of the pope's visit to Philadelphia. We'll be back with live coverage all day. Make sure you take part by Tweeting us your photos, videos, and comments using the hashtag #popedfm.

5 a.m.: We're back!

Don't forget to pick up a copy of today's Sunday Times for a special glossy color keepsake photo commemorating Pope Francis' historic two-day visit to Philadelphia.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Heron's Nest: Live Pope Blog

2 p.m.: Here's our story on the very special moment shared by the Keating family from Downingtown with Pope Francis after his arrival at Philadelphia International Airport this morning: Read it here.

12:25: Just spotted one of my favorite Delco people, Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, president of Neumann University, awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. She looks radiant.

12:05: Here's an update: It did in fact involve the Keating family. Dad Chuck is the band director at Bishop Shanahan. His son Michael, who is confined to a wheelchair, was blessed by the pope.

Here is an update from the Associated Press:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pope Francis kissed the forehead of a boy with cerebral palsy after landing in Philadelphia, coaxing a small smile from the profoundly disabled 10-year-old.

Francis apparently spied Michael Keating as he was being driven away from the plane on Saturday morning. Ordering the car to stop, Francis got out and walked over to the boy, put his hand on his head and kissed him as his sobbing mother looked on.

Kristin Keating thanked the pope, who grasped her hand. He also shook the hand of Keating's husband, Chuck Keating, the band director at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown. The band played for the pope's arrival.

Kristin Keating calls it a beautiful gesture by Francis and says she believes Michael felt the pope's blessing.

11:25: My vote for the most moving moment of the pope's visit to Philly so far came right after he got off the plane at Philadelphia International Airport. The Bishop Shanahan High School (my wife's alma mater) Band was playing for Pope Francis' arrival in Philly. There was a young man in a wheelchair who TV reports indicated may be the son of the band director. As Pope Francis pulled away in his little Fiat, his caravan cruised past over to where the band was playing on the tarmac. Of course he stopped, and got out when he caught a glimpse of the young man in the wheelchair. If you didn't have tears in your eyes as the Holy Father hugged the young man, along with his parents and some of the nuns from Shanahan, you might want to check your pulse. If anyone knows who these people are in the photo, could you please post their IDs so I can properly note them. Just incredibly moving.

11:15: In case you were wondering, this of course is not the first time a pope has visited Philadelphia, nor the first time an outdoor Mass will be celebrated at Eakins Oval. Here's a look at the scene in October 1979, when Pope John Paul II said Mass in front of nearly a million of the faithful.

10:45: Remember to pick up a copy of the Sunday Times tomorrow morning for a special glossy keepsake commemorative photo marking the historic visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia.

10:05: It's still a little hard to believe that after so many months of preparation, Pope Francis is actually here. But he has arrived in Philadelphia, and is now on his way to the Cathedral Basilica SS Peter and Paul to celebrate a Mass for clergy and invited guests. Here's Kathleen Carey's story.

9:58 a.m.: Pope Francis stop his Fiat after waving to the Bishop Shanahan band, gets out to bless a young man in a wheelchair. Anyone else have tears in their eyes? Powerful moment.

9:45: It's time. The moment is at hand. After months of preparation, Pope Francis' plane has touched down on the ground at Philadelphia International Airport. 9:45: You just have to love Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood. His commment on 69th Street Security? "If the Russians invaded us here, we'd win." Couple hundreds folks have made way through terminal this morning. One Note: If you're going, you must have a ticket before you go through the checkpoint.

9:35: Note for folks heading to 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby on way to see pope. Correspondent Linda Reilly reports all traffic coming from West Chester Pike and Garrett Road is being forced to go right on Copley, then left on Ludlow for dropoffs. Then they can walk the two blocks to the terminal. Enter by the side door.

9:25: Have to hand it to the folks at the Plumstead Inn on State Street in Media. They have one of the best signs I've seen all week in connection with the pope's visit. The place seems to have undergone a name change. Think Francis will drop by for a cold one?

9:05: We have our first story of the day, noting the smaller-than-expected crowds at Primos Station. Numbers seem to be running much higher at Paoli, Radnor and Fort Washington. Here's the story.

8:50: Pope has arrived at airport in New York. Seems to be running a tad behind schedule. Was supposed to touch down at Philly International at 9:30. Flight takes about an hour.

8:45: How cool is this. Pope Francis was ferried from downtown New York City out to the airport in none other than a version of Boeing's V-22 Opsrey tilt-rotor aircraft. Pride of Delco!

8:35: How cool is this. Call it the Pride of Delco! Pope Francis is being ferried to the airport in New York City in a version of the Boeing V-22 Osprey. Wonder if the pope knows that the copter originated just a few miles from where he will land at Philly International here in Ridley Township.

8:10 a.m.: Never let it be said that anyone getting on the train at Primos Station did so on an empty stomach. The good workers at the Primos Wawa and Giant were out this morning offering 'Pope-alicious' donuts and pretzels. First responders seemed to enjoy the offer. Still not much in the way of ridership.

8:a.m.: Just got an update from SEPTA personnel at Primos Station. Only 150 have boarded the trains so far. Officials say more tickets holders are expected in the next "shift," which runs from 8:30 to noon.

7:45: It is down these steps that Pope Francis will step on Philadelphia. Welcome, Francis!

7:30 a.m.: There is a small group of people already in place at Philadelphia International Airport, where Pope Francis will touch down after his short flight from New York City at 9:30 a.m. Among them are some family members of the Bishop Shanahan High School Marching Band in Downingtown. They will play for the pontiff's arrival. When he departs Sunday night, he will be given a proper send off by the Cardinal O'Hara Marching Band from right here in Delco. Here's a story on the O'Hara Band. Reporter Kathleen Carey is in place at the airport this morning to capture the pope's arrival in Philly.

7:25 a.m.: Pope Francis will touch down in Philly just about two hours from now.

Here is his schedule for the historic two-day visit to the Philadelphia:

SATURDAY

• 8:40 a.m. Departs New York City by plane.

• 9:30 a.m.: Arrival and greeting at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia International Airport.

• 10:30 a.m.: Celebrates Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Private event for invited clergy and guests.

• 12:45 p.m.: Meeting with seminarians St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

• 4:30 p.m.: Speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall.

Following the speech the pontiff will take part in Papal Parade of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Exact time to be determined.

• 7:30 p.m.: Takes part in final event of World Meeting of Families, the Festival of Families on the Parkway.

SUNDAY

• 9:15 a.m.: Meeting with international bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

• 11 a.m.: Visit prisoners and families at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Holmesburg.

Will take part in 2nd Papal Parade in the Afternoon on the Parkway, with exact time to be determined.

• 4 p.m.: Celebrates Mass at Eakins Oval. As many as a million expected to attend.

• 8 p.m.: Departs from Philadelphia International Airport.

7 a.m.: So far there has not been much use for this sign. People who arrive for the train at Primos Station from Oak Avenue or Providence Road have to walk back almost to the Daily Times plant to enter a chute will then take them back up to the train crossing.

6:45 a.m.: Daylight arrives at Primos Station, but the key word is light. Very light ridership on R3 line. Officials indicate first train out of Media also light, with only about 50 riders.

6:15 a.m.: Still almost no one at the Primos Station. They've sold 4,000 of the special regional rail passes for the two days from this location. I'm told they sold about 1,600 for Saturday and 2,500 for Sunday. Maybe people are waiting for light. I definitely think there will be more people going Sunday as opposed to today. But then again, if it rains I'm not so sure about that.

6 a.m.: We will be live all day covering the arrival of Pope Francis. But we want you to be part of our coverage. Make sure you Tweet us your pictures and video. Use the hashtag #popedfm to be part of our live blog. You can see the blog here.

5:30 a.m.:

Here's my initial reaction after driving into Primos early and watching as the first train arrived.

Where is everybody?

There was only a handful of pilgrims waiting for the first train.

Trains started running into the city at 5:30 a.m. There are basically two shifts, from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m., and then 8:30 to noon.

Maybe things will pick up later on.

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Everything about this game screams “take the Jets.”

Which is of course the reason I will pick the Eagles. I’ve been as stunned as anyone by the Birds 0-2 start. Look, anyone can lose two games to start the season, but it’s the way the Eagles have looked, in particular against the Cowboys, that is most troubling. The Birds never showed up.

This team is still struggling with a severe case of not knowing one another. Kelly tore the team apart in the offseason, then brought in a bunch of new faces, and decided they didn’t need to play all that much in the preseason.

That is particularly true of Quarterback Sam Bradford, who looked rattled and tentative against the Cowboys. That’s what happens when a precision offense based on tempo gets disrupted, its ground game in tatters, and its offensive line struggling.

Things won’t get a lot easier this week. The Jets’ defense is a stout bunch, and even a somewhat hobbling Darrel Revis has to be licking his chops.

But it looks like DeMarco Murray is going to play, and I don’t see Chip Kelly coming up with three straight lousy game plans. The Birds need a fast start, to operate with the lead once. The Jets’ offense is terrible, probably worse than what the Eagles put on display vs. the Cowboys.

An 0-3 start would be anathema. I don’t see that happening.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 27, Jets 23. Bradford will look better. Murray and Ryan Matthews will get back on track. Cody Parkey will even boot a couple of key field goals.

Last Week: Troy Aikman pretty much summed it up. It was flat-out embarrassing. For some reason Kelly does not subscribe to the theory that the Cowboys game is not just one more game on the schedule. In these parts, that’s heresy. Don’t think I’ve ever seen an Eagles team less fired-up for a Dallas game.

Season Record: I expected the Eagles to be 2-0 at this point. Instead they’re a stunning 0-2 and standing on the edge of the abyss. They can’t really start 0-3, can they?

Game by Game: Cowboys 20, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 26.

Falcons 26, Eagles 24. (My Pick: Eagles 37, Falcons 26)

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Sept. 25

The Daily Numbers: 200,000 dollars, how much Upper Darby officials believe they are going to be out for costs associated with the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to the region.

2 facilities in Upper Darby tied to pope visit - Primos Train Station on R3 line, and 69th Street Terminal.

3 other regional rail lines in Delco that will be used: Media, Marcus Hook, and Radnor.

115,000 dollars in overtime for police in Lower Merion.

8:30 a.m., when Pope Francis will address United Nations General Assembly.

6 p.m., when he celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden.

9:30 a.m. Saturday, arrives in Philadelphia.

10 p.m. last night, when Secure Perimeter Zone went into effect around Ben Franklin Parkway from City Hall to the Art Museum.

6 a.m. Friday, when anyone entering the area must go through security checkpoint.

10 p.m. Friday, when Ben Franklin Bridge will close until noon Monday.

10 p.m. Friday, when the Schuylkill Expressway shuts down from I-476 to I-95 eastbound, and from I-95 to Route 1 westbound. It will be closed until Monday morning.

300,000 pedestrians that can fit on the Ben Franklin Parkway, where the pope will celebrate Mass Sunday afternoon.

Quote Box: “You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demand pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.”

- Pope Francis in remarks to joint meeting of Congress.

Delco towns wonder who's picking up the tab for pope costs

Tom Micozzie is not a happy camper. Neither is John McBlain.

Don't get me wrong. They, like everyone else in the region, are overjoyed at the arrival of Pope Francis for his historic two-day visit to the region on Saturday.

That's not what's bothering them.

It's who's going to pick up the tab that is on their minds.

Micozzie is mayor of Upper Darby Township, where 69th Street will be jumping both Saturday and Sunday as pilgrims head into the city on mass transit to see the pontiff. In addition, the Primos Train Station on the R3 Media-Elwyn line is one of only two stations on the line that will be used for passengers both getting on in the morning and departing at night.

All of this is going to cost the township a lot of money. Earlier this week, Micozzie put out a statement, along with the latest traffic plan, that put the cost to Upper Darby for police and other security measures at $200,000.

McBlain is a member of Delaware County Council. The county also is going to be seeing a fairly serious outlay of funds for the safety precautions put in place this week.

Both men were somewhat surprised when they read earlier this week that the City of Philadelphia had signed a contract with the World Meeting of Families organization that will see the agency pay the city $12 million for the costs incurred by the city. So far, no such similar designation is being made for the suburbs.

You can read all the details here.

"As of now, neither the federal or state government has made any comitments or promised any reimbursement; nor has the World Meeting of Families promised any reimbursements of affected suburban governments," McBlain said.

He's now strongly suggesting that suburban governments that are incurring bills tied to the pope's visit to keep tabs on their costs in the event some state or federal aid becomes available.

Micozzie is taking it another step. He fired off a letter to the World Meeting of Families brass asking if they will be reimbursed for their costs. He says he has not heard back from anyone as yet.

At Primos Station, an estimated 4,000 riders will descend on the suburban rail line on Saturday and Sunday. On an average weekday, about 500 people board the train there.

Other municipalities that will have transit hubs in the county include Marcus Hook, Media-Upper Providence, and Radnor. We'll let you know if anyone steps up to share the tab for the suburbs.

• • •

We will once again have full live coverage of today's events at the World Meeting of Families, one day before Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia.

CLICK HERE for our daily live blog.

CLICK HERE for a look at road closures in the region.

• • •

Here is the pope's schedule:

Here is the schedule for Pope Francis for his historic visit to the United States:

FRIDAY

• 8:30 a.m.: Addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

• 11:30 a.m.: Interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

• 4 p.m.: Meets with immigrant families at Our Lady, Queen of the Angels school in Harlem.

• 5 p.m.: Motorcade in Popemobile in Central Park.

• 6 p.m.: Celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden.

SATURDAY

• 9:30 a.m.: Arrival and greeting at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia International Airport.

• 10:30 a.m.: Celebrates Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Private event for for invited clergy and guests.

• 12:45 p.m.: Meeting with seminarians St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

• 4:30 p.m.: Speech on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall.

• Following the speech the pontiff will take part in Papal Parade of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Exact time to be determined.

• 7:30 p.m.: Takes part in final event of World Meeting of Families, the Festival of Families on the Parkway.

SUNDAY

• 9:15 a.m.: Meeting with international bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

• 11 a.m.: Visit prisoners and families at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Holmesburg.

• Will take part in 2nd Papal Parade in the Afternoon on the Parkway, with exact time to be determined.

• 4 p.m.: Celebrates Mass at Eakins Oval. As many as a million expected to attend.

• 8 p.m.: Departs from Philadelphia International Airport.

Make sure you get your special glossy Pope Francis keepsake Sunday

Make sure you pick up a copy of the Sunday Times for a very special commemorative keepsake of Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia.

On the very same day that the pontiff will celebrate Mass for as many as a million of the faithful on the Ben Franklin Parkway, every copy of the Sunday Times will include a full-color glossy keepsake for our readers to mark the occasion.

You'll want to make sure you get one of these to mark one of the most memorable moments in Philadelphia history.

Best of Delco winners listed today!

We know you've been waiting for it - and today's the day.

No, not the pope. He's not getting here until tomorrow.

Today is the day we announce the winners of this year's Best of Delco contest.

Make sure you pick up a copy of today's print edition of the Daily Times to find out who our readers voted as the best restaurants, shops, hospitals and services - all of which make Delco the very special place it is.

Guess I didn't win as best blogger again this year!

It's all in today's Daily Times!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Sept. 24 (Pope Week Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 2 days until Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia.

9:20 a.m., when he becomes 1st pope to address join session of Congress.

4 p.m., Flies out of Washington, D.C.

5 p.m., arrives in New York City.

1st pope to address Congress.

1st pope to canonize a saint in the U.S., with yesterday’s celebration of Father Junipero Serra.

11,000 people who packed the South Lawn of White House yesterday to greet the pontiff.

5, age of girl who approached the Popemobile and delivered a message to the pontiff, along with a bright yellow T-shirt.

10 p.m. Thursday, when security zone goes into effect on Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia in advance of the pope’s visit.

90 percent of hotel rooms in Center City and University City now booked for the weekend.

11,000 hotel rooms in those two areas.

119,000 of the 328,000 special papal passes for use on regional rails sold by SEPTA.

507 riders who usually use the Radnor station on Paoli Thorndale line each day.

12,797 passes sold for this weekend.

14 times the normal weekday ridership.

15,636 passes sold for Paoli, that’s tops among the 18 stations on the regional rails.

7,449 passes sold for Media on the R3 Media Elwyn line.

4,055 sold for Primos.

2,051 sold for Marcus Hook.

1 more day to get a ticket for regional rails this weekend. They will be on sale through Friday.

600 parking spots available in Paoli.

15,000 at Radnor. Authorities are suggesting pilgrims be dropped off, as opposed to parking at the stations.

Quote Box: “Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

- Pope Francis, in remarks at the White House yesterday.

Stay with us for live coverage of everything related to Pope's visit

Two days and counting.

Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia Saturday morning. Today he will become the first pontiff ever to address a joint session of Congress. We'll have complete reaction from out local congressmen.

In the meantime, there is another full day of events planned at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. It's a huge story.

And we'll be there every step of the way.

The editorial team of the Daily Times and Digital First Media publications in the Philadelphia region has a team of reporters and photographers in place, ready to cover the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’visit like no other outlet.

But we also want you to be part of our team. You can follow along live and add to our daily coverage by using #popedfm on Twitter. Send us your Tweets, photos and video.

Follow our live blog daily coverage, which will feature every monumental moment of this historic event.

Here is what is on tap for Pope Francis today in Washington, D.C., and New York City:

THURSDAY

• 9:20 a.m.: Makes first address ever by pontiff to joint session of Congress.

• 11:15 a.m.: Meets with homeless group at St. Patrick Parish.

• 4 p.m.: Leaves D.C. and flies to New York City.

• 5 p.m.: Arrives at JFK Airport.

• 6:45 p.m.: Meets with clergy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Here is today's key events at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia:

The following events associated with the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 are scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2015: Press Conference: “The Impact of WMOF and the Papal Visit for Philadelphia”

10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. EDT

The Pennsylvania Convention Center: Hall A Featuring: · Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City of Philadelphia · Jack Ferguson, President & CEO, PHLCVB · Meryl Levitz, President & CEO, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® · John McNichol, President & CEO, Pennsylvania Convention Center Post-Keynote Press Conference:

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT

The Pennsylvania Convention Center: Hall A

Featuring: Dr. Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin and Mrs. Gabriela N. de la Guardia

Q&A: “Philadelphia’s Gifts to the Holy Father”

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center: Hall A

Featuring:

· Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director, World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015

· Ms. Joan Doyle, Retail & Gifting Consultant

· Mrs. Barbara Franklin

Press Conference: “Two Philadelphia Families’ Roles in the Visit of the Holy Father”

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT

The Pennsylvania Convention Center: Hall A

· The Bowes Family

· Richard (Rick) and Bernadette Bowes, with their three children, Matthew (11), Riley (10) and Gabrielle (8) will represent all families in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and greet Pope Francis as he lands in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 26. Mr. Bowes is a former member of the Philadelphia Police Department. In 2008, at age 35, he was called in for back-up by Officer Patrick McDonald pursuing an armed suspect in North Philadelphia. Upon his arrival at the scene, he saw McDonald had been shot and killed and then came under fire himself. He was shot in the leg but returned fire, killing the gunman. Due to his injury, he was unable to return to the police force and retired but now works for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His family, parishioners at Saint Christopher’s in Northeast Philadelphia, are deeply faithful, despite this incident. Monsignor Garvin, Pastor at St. Chris’, describes the family as “everything you want a family to be in terms of love and nurturing.”

·Mr. Jerry Davis

· Mr. Davis, his wife (Anna), daughter (Kim) and 12-year old grandson (Jordan) will present one of the gifts to the Holy Father at the Cathedral Mass on Saturday, September 26. Mr. Davis is a retired senior executive from Sunoco. He grew up in West Philadelphia, the youngest of 10 siblings, and lost his mother at the age of 3. His father worked two jobs and Mr. Davis spent much of his early life working in the Church Rectory. He credits the priests for helping him “to stay out of trouble” and for forming his deep faith and commitment to education. He is a strong supporter of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and an advocate for encouraging more African American men to pursue vocations. He was also instrumental in the saving of the four Catholic High Schools in Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2012.

· Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director, World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015

The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Media Welcome Party

*Special Showing of “Eternally Rome”

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Comcast Lobby

1701 JFK Boulevard; Philadelphia

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 23

The Daily Numbers: 18,000 pilgrims in Philadelphia for the weeklong World Meeting of Families.

9:15 a.m. meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama.

35,000 people expected on the national mall in Washington, D.C., where Pope Francis will tour in his Jeepmobile at 11 a.m.

0 times Pope Francis has been on U.S. soil before yesterday.

0 times a pope has addressed before Congress. Until tomorrow, when Pope Francis will become the 1st.

200,000 dollars, how much Upper Darby will seek from World Meeting of Families for reimbursement for township costs this weekend.

12 million dollars, how much World Meeting of Families will pay city of Philadelphia.

25 million dollars being sought by Chester Upland School District to wipe out $23.8 million deficit.

2nd day on job for a clerk at the Folcroft 7-Eleven who was tied up and robbed at gunpoint.

3 years probation for a Folcroft man in a DUI crash that injured a friend.

90, age of Yankees icon Yogi Berra, who died this morning.

10 World Series Championships for Berra.

3 American League MVP awards.

15 consecutive All-Star game appearances.

65,000 dollars, the most Berra ever made in a single season.

2 home runs for Cody Asche in Phils’ 6-2 win over Marlins.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

You can take that interim tag off Pete Mackanin. The Phillies extended him as skipper through 2016 season.

I Don’t Get It: Still trying to get a feel for just how many people are going to wind up packing the regional rails this weekend to get into Philadelphia for the papal events.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Pope Francis, who touched down on U.S. soil for the 1st time yesterday. A historic moment.

Quote Box: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

- The one and only Yogi Berra. RIP, Yogi.

Follow us for live coverage of Pope in Philly

Yes, I was as tired of hearing about the pope as anyone. Maybe more so. I've been up to my neck in security precautions, story ideas and transportation logistics for the past month.

But I have to admit I still got a chill yesterday when Pope Francis stepped off that plane onto U.S. soil for the first time in Washington, D.C.

It's a huge event, and it will draw huge crowds.

Nowhere more than here in Philadelphia.

Today the pontiff will address Congress, then celebrate a Mass on the National Mall. Then it's off to New York City for an address to the U.N., a tour of Central Park and a Mass in Madison Square Garden.

Then it's time for the Main Event. Pope Francis will arrive in Philly early Saturday morning. He will deliver an address on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Mall, then take part in the crowning event of the World Meeting of Families, the Festival of Families. On Sunday he will celebrate Mass for maybe a million pilgrims on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It's a huge story.

And we'll be there every step of the way.

The editorial team of the Daily Times and Digital First Media publications in the Philadelphia region have a team of reporters and photographers in place, ready to cover the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’visit like no other outlet.

But we also want you to be part of our team. You can follow along live and add to our daily coverage by using #popedfm on Twitter. Send us your Tweets, photos and video.

Follow our live blog daily coverage, which will feature every monumental moment of this historic event.

Here is a list of today's key events at the World Meeting of Families.

Here are some of the programs being held Wednesday:

* School of the Heart: Parents and Primary Catechists

* Saintly Couples: Models on the Road to Sanctity

* Mary of Nazareth: First Disciple and Mother of the Redeemer

* The Other Side of Mount Sanai: Growing up in Virtue

Can Society Exist without the Family?

* In the City: Concerns of the Urban Family

* Procreation as Co-Creation: The Spirituality of Parenting

* Radical Surrender: Living Vocation according to God’s Will

* One Ring to Rule them All: The Covenant of Marriage

Where is this relationship going? Dating as Discernment

* See How to Love One Another: The Family and the Faith

* Digging into Dignity: Promoting the Dignity of the Human Person

The Special Place of Women in the Family, The Church and The World

* The Bible: A Book for the Family, A Light for the World

* Creating the Future: The Fertility of Christian Love

* The Building Blocks and the Cornerstone: Building Familial Love through Everyday Practice

Jack, Jimmy & the Pope

If you consider yourself a 'Delco' person, you have to read Jack McCaffery's column today.

Yes, Jack is writing about the looming visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia.

And the Eagles.

And a Delco sports icon.

To see how all three connect, make sure you read Jack's column here.

Jimmy Murray has always been one of my favorite Delco people. Not just sports people. People period. No one quite spins a yarn like Jimmy. Today's is a classic.