(for International Business Times, Sept. 25, 2015)
NEW YORK–Joseph M. Samela Jr. came prepared Friday in hopes of seeing Pope Francis in New York City. In a small backpack he estimated weighed at least 30 pounds, he had packed 1.5 gallon of water, 3 pounds of almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, 2 pounds of baby carrots, several pounds of string cheese and cheddar, a first-aid kit, extra socks and underwear, a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. He also had a separate, dedicated bag for his folding camping chair and a wide-brimmed straw hat from K-Mart, its string fastened firmly under his chin.
“I could find a spot and sit there and stay there all day,” Samela, a 62-year-old school administrator from Mount Carmel, Connecticut, who took the day off to come to New York City, said as he sat on the base of a statue on Second Avenue and 44th Street Friday morning. He’d caught a 4:09 a.m. train that day from Connecticut and watched the sun rise from the United Nations on the east side of Manhattan before police kicked him off First Avenue, he said. Samela planned to go back to Connecticut Friday night, but he had packed everything he might need in case, for any reason, he got stuck in the city.
Samela is one of many who abandoned their daily schedules Friday in hopes of catching a glimpse of the immensely popular Pope Francis — or even just his motorcade — during his historic first visit to the United States. Uncertain of what route the pope would follow throughout the city and undeterred by high levels of security, they said they planned to follow the pope over several stops scheduled in Manhattan, from the 9/11 Memorial downtown to a school in Harlem, and other places in between. It would be worth it, they said, just to catch a glimpse or be in his vicinity.
Read more at ibtimes.com.