East Harlem Residents Thrilled About Pope Francis’ Upcoming Visit

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pope Francis’ New York City visit was just a few weeks away Friday, and one of his stops will be a school in East Harlem.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the whole neighborhood has been gearing up for a chance to see him.

“You know, I’ve been in this neighborhood my whole life, and to have something like this to happen is really exciting and you know, I’m looking forward to it,” said Rene Anaya of East Harlem.

Anaya will have a front-row seat to see Pope Francis when he visits in September. He lives on East 112th Street, right across the street from Our Lady Queen of Angels School, where the Holy Father will me meeting with students.

“I mean, it’s unimaginable,” Anaya said. “I never expected something like that to happen around here.”

Neighbors Henry Saunders and Irene Williams chuckled, thinking about the neighborhood’s most recent brush with celebrity in the form of John Travolta. They said Hollywood cannot compete with His Holiness.

“I feel blessed, you know? Because it’s an honor to have him come by — the Holy Father, you know?” Saunders said.

“I couldn’t believe it and then I said, ‘Yeah, I believe it,’” Williams added. “Somebody cares about us.”

The block of 112th Street where the school is located will be shut down to traffic during the pope’s visit, with very tight security. People who live and work in the area know it won’t be easy to get around, but they say they are more than happy to welcome such a VIP to their neighborhood.

“We are very, very happy; excited waiting for that day,” said Bianer Garcia.

Garcia’s beauty salon will be in the frozen zone, so she will be closed for business. But she said she and her family will be at the shop to witness the excitement.

Anaya said he might be playing hooky too.

“It’s a once in a lifetime kind of a thing,” he said.

Pope Francis will be in New York from Sept. 24 through Sept. 26. He will address the U.N. General Assembly, attend a service at the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, visit Our Lady Queen of Angels school and hold Mass at Madison Square Garden.

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