Back Stories: Pope John Paul II Visits NYC

WCBS 880's 50th Anniversary Takes A Look Back

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – In today’s Back Story, WCBS reporter Rich Lamb remembers a playful gesture from Pope John Paul II.

The pope visited New York City in October 1979.

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“I was stationed at 51st Street and Fifth Avenue outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, at the top of the steps. At a corner of two blue police barricades,” he recalls.

“The pope was making his way along a stone walkway next to the cathedral. When the pope is about 30 feet from me, I thought, ‘this is amazing,’ but I expected him to make a left into the church. Instead, he kept coming 20 feet, 10 feet. As he passes me, he turns and winks at me. It was a playful gesture,” he says. “I paused a heartbeat and I said, ‘Do I say this on the radio?’ And I did, and Pat and Ben were on the air – Pat Parson and Ben Farnsworth – they cracked open their mics and started laughing. They said, ‘Hey, did the mayor wink at you? Did the police commissioner wink at you?’ I said, ‘No, just the pope.’”

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