LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11) - In 1987, Pope John Paul II visited Los Angeles to enormous crowds and jubilation. The church faithful (and non-believers too) showed up en masse to get a glimpse of the pontiff, who remains one of the most beloved of all times.
In a city where movie stars are commonplace, it was interesting to see so many people "star struck" by the leader of the Catholic Church. Getting tickets to his religious services was not an easy feat. I remember people gathered around our newsroom talking about landing tickets like they were headed to watch the World Series.
In an interesting aside, one of his Catholic masses was in fact held at Dodger Stadium.
The then owner of the Dodgers, Peter O' Malley, a practicing Catholic, was instrumental in making that happen, according to the Dodgers team historian.
Pope John Paul II was in the Southland for two days in September 1987. His schedule was ambitious. He led a seven-mile parade through LA's diverse ethnic neighborhoods. I was reporting along the parade route as a young cub reporter and was touched to see all these young families, with their children waiting patiently. And like the throngs of people around me deeply moved by the experience.
Long before the term "relatable" was part of the pop lexicon, Pope John Paul II had a remarkable ability to connect. The poor, the underprivileged, and the sick felt as though he "saw" them and spoke to them. Millions waited hours to catch a glimpse of this People's Pope.
And the security around the city was unprecedented for 1987. Nearly 6,000 officers were used along the motorcade route. There was policing from the ground and the air. In a bit of heavenly news, crime dropped fifty percent during the pontiff's visit.
On a personal note, when I looked back at footage in the KTTV archives, it all came rushing back. I could recall how very happy people were during this period of time. I would like to thank Mark Langill, the Dodgers team historian, for sharing this photo with us. Next time you're at a Dodger game, check out the photos on the Club Level, you won't be disappointed. It was a blessed time in the City of Angels