RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Visitors making the pilgrimage to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis in September are exploring all options to stay in the city.

One Bergen County parish is getting creative in its attempt to see the pope.

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About 70 families from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, will be sleeping at the Philadelphia Zoo during the weekend of Sept. 26-27.

“Our slogan is, ‘Pope Francis, we’re staying at the zoo just to see you,'” Cathy Hunt, the church’s director of religious education, told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

As hotels started filling up and getting pricey, church officials set out to find cheaper lodging for the weekend and nailed down plans to sleep inside two buildings that contain insect and bird exhibits.

“Our choices are you bring your own sleeping bag or you bring your own blow up bed,” Hunt said.

Hunt booked the accommodations, which are usually enjoyed by scout troops and school trips.

“My son is 10 and he is so excited about the whole thing,” Hunt said. “If I gave him a choice between staying at the zoo and staying at a hotel, he’d be staying at the zoo.”

As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Hunt made the arrangements through the Zoo’s overnight program

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“We were trying to think outside the box,” she said.

But the kids are excited about more than just the animals.

“It’s also about the energy of Catholics from all over the world coming together, praying together, singing together,” Hunt said. “There’s just a very wonderful spirit.”

Bunking down on the floor and walking a couple of miles is a small sacrifice to share a spiritual journey with fellow Catholics and Pope Francis, Hunt said.

“I think he’s very relatable,” Hunt said. “The first message that he portrays is that, ‘I love you.'”

Theresa Roberts and her family are all in.

“I think it’s great. It will be an adventure.” Roberts said.

More than 1 million travelers are expected in Philadelphia, where the pope will attend a world meeting of Roman Catholic families and celebrate an outdoor Mass.

The pope will make stops in Washington, D.C. and New York City before arriving in Philadelphia.

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