WASHINGTON - Crowds arrived early to points across the D.C. area in anticipation of Pope Francis' first visit to the U.S.
Pope Francis' schedule is packed! He will begin the day around 9 a.m. at the White House where he will officially meet President Obama. From there - starting at around 11 a.m. - he will take to the Popemobile for the event everyone is most excited for -- the Papal Parade! He will travel along 15th Street, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street until about 11:30 a.m. or so. After a private midday prayer, he will take part in the Junipero Serra Canonization Mass at Shrine of the Immaculate Conception around 4 p.m.
So are you planning on heading into the city to enjoy this special day? Here are the 5 things you need to know when planning your trip into D.C. for your chance to see Pope Francis!
#1 LEAVE EARLY - If you are reading this from home it's probably TOO LATE to start making plans to head downtown for the Papal Parade. Checkpoints opened between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Getting into the city will be a challenge. Metro might be your best bet. You can check the Metro schedule here: http://wmata.com/. If you decide to drive, make sure to check this list for roads closures and parking restrictions - there are a lot!
If you are still making your way into the city, you need to head to one of these checkpoints:
-East of the Ellipse on Constitution Avenue
-West of the Ellipse on Constitution Avenue
-East of the Washington Monument near Jefferson Drive and 15th Streets, NW
-West of the Washington Monument near 17th Street, NW
Your best spots to see Pope Francis will be along these streets - but it will be crowded. (See Photos Of The Crowds)
#2 DRESS APPROPRIATELY - Pope Francis couldn't have picked a better weather day to visit D.C.! Temperatures in the morning will be brisk and in the 60s. By the time Pope Francis hits the parade route, expect sunny skies with temperatures in the mid to high 70s. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts and light jackets will be just fine.
#3 KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT BRING - This is important for everyone planning on heading through the security checkpoints to watch Pope Francis' Papal Parade. Saying security will be tight is an UNDERSTATEMENT! Secret Service and other local authorities are out in force to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Check out this list of prohibited items which includes things like selfie sticks, certain bags and backpacks, tents, DRONES…WEAPONS! If your items are taken by officers they will not be returned! Use common sense and - when in doubt - leave it at home!
#4 WATCH THE POPE ALL DAY ON THE JUMBOTRON AT THE NATIONAL MALL - The excitement doesn't end when Pope Francis finishes his Papal Parade. His busy day includes stops all around the D.C. area and you can watch all the coverage down at the National Mall on a massive JUMBOTRON! You can watch his address to the U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, and the Mass of Canonization for Blessed Junipero Serra later in the afternoon. Pack a lunch, bring your signs, and prepare for some fun. If you can't make it to the National Mall you can watch all the coverage online here: http://www.fox5dc.com/pope-visit-coverage
#5 RELAX AND LOSE THE STRESS - Traffic, security checkpoints, road closures, detours, parking restrictions, and tens of thousands of people will greet you as you make your way into D.C. for your chance to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis. Traffic, both to and from events, will be crazy - so leave early and prepare to stay late. Remember what his visit is all about. Take a deep breath. Reflect. Make memories that will last forever. It will be a beautiful day in the District. Leave the stress at home.