By Tom Foti
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Normalcy has returned to our city. After a long weekend, Philadelphia has begun to transition back to its usual state.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Officials To Provide Update On July 4 Parkway Shooting That Injured 2 Officers
The Pope’s visit to Philadelphia could be once in a lifetime. I wanted to give this post the time and reflection it deserved. So, I’ve finally been able to decompress and think about the past several unforgettable days I’ve spent in the city.
I arrived at the station late Thursday afternoon. By then, most of the people at WIP had left the city. A few minutes prior to the start of my 6 p.m. shift, it was just Eric “Turtle” Golden, Vince Quinn, Sludge and yours truly. I felt like a kid going on his first camping trip. The anticipation of what lay ahead gave the station a different atmosphere. For the most part, it was going to be us—plus a small number of people running the station for the next few days.
Ben Hill, our chief engineer, came to the station on Friday and cooked one of the meanest cheesesteaks I have ever eaten. All cheesesteak shops in Philly, you are now on notice. The next two nights consisted of running the board for Phillies’ games, producing The Final Out and Jody McDonald’s show until 2 a.m.
Saturday was bit more interesting in several ways. For those of you who were not up during the overnight hours, all of the producers were essentially locked into the station (400 Market Street) because the city had begun its security preparations for the Pope’s visit to Independence Mall. I attempted to walk back to the hotel but the police had to turn me away because the section where the hotel sat had already been swept, and the officials were not letting pedestrians into the area.
I made my way back to WIP and stayed for the entirety of Vince’s first show, which I hope you tuned in for because he killed it. At 6 a.m Vince and I set out for the hotel. This time, the security checkpoints had been set up and we made it to 12th Street in no time.
I woke up at 2 p.m., showered and left the hotel at 2:15. A row of police motorcycles and a plethora of officers greeted me as I turned onto Market Street. I now truly grasped how big this day would be for the city. After cutting down to Chestnut, I got to the security checkpoint on Market Street. This is where my scenic tour of Philadelphia began. Three security checkpoints later and several conversations with the NES, Secret Service, volunteers and police, I walked into WIP at 3:45 p.m. Let me be the first to tell you, security was airtight. If you did not have a ticket, you stood no chance of getting into the festival.
Saturday night consisted of Sludge’s show following a four-hour Phillies game that did not include a fight between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. Turtle then took the mic for his first show, which was phenomenal.
SundayREAD MORE: Partial Collapse Of 2 Homes In West Oak Lane Under Investigation
Sunday was the final ride into the sunset. The Eagles capped off the weekend with a 24-17 win over the New York Jets, and I produced Sunday Night Football and an hour and a half of The Jody Mac Show.
As I drove home from the station, I was finally able to sit back and think about the weekend. I do not consider myself an overly religious person. I am comfortable with where I am in my faith, but regardless of our beliefs, I think of all of us can agree that Pope Francis is an incredible human being.
How many times did all of us see him stop his motorcade just to interact with the people? Pope Francis is someone who has a genuine concern for the people of the world. During my trek to WIP on Saturday afternoon, I had a moment where I stopped and said to myself, “This is a moving experience.”
People from all over the world came to Philadelphia for one man.
Almost one million people visited our city to see him. One family traveled more than 13,000 miles to be in his presence. This is just my two cents, but I find it touching that so many people can find happiness in seeing him and hearing him speak. At its root, it’s no different from the city banding together for the Eagles.
To the people who visited during the weekend – I ask you to visit again. Philadelphia is a place rich with culture, history, and great food. I’d love for you to experience it on your own time.
I also wish to thank the city police. Each and every one of you was courteous and helpful to me. As much of a struggle as it may have been to access certain parts of the city, it made me feel safer that all of those precautions were in place.
Thank you to Mike Angelina, Eric “Turtle” Golden, Vince Quinn and Brian Haddad. You guys made the weekend fun with tons of laughs.
Thank you to management at WIP for taking care of us throughout the weekend with food and a place to stay.
And finally, thank you to the listeners and callers who made it a fun weekend. I’ll talk to you on the other side with a friendly, “W-I-P!”
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Tom Foti is a producer for SportsRadio 94WIP.