Pope's DC visit brings out the faithful — and the vendors

A woman among a crowd of onlookers outside the White House grounds reacts in stunned unbelief as Pope Francis, riding in a Fiat 500L, passed by in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.


By CARLOS BONGIOANNI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — Ray Wreckless was in D.C. on Wednesday, seeking a blessing — of sorts.

As crowds of people descended on the city to get a glimpse of Pope Francis, who was visiting the White House early Wednesday, Wreckless was among the numerous street vendors out to make a buck or two selling pope-related paraphernalia.

“He brings me blessings,” Wreckless said of Francis. “I hope he blesses me with some money.”

Across the street on another corner, Vincent Stephenson, a Jamaican-born resident of D.C., was all smiles as he announced his wares for sale. “Get your flags, T-shirts, buttons and posters. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. Everything must go. The price is right.”

So the sales pitches went all around the White House.

The mood was light and cheerful, though, as the crowds passed by to get in position to see Francis.

On 15th Street, cheers and shouts of joy ascended as the Popemobile turned into the White House grounds, giving the faithful a second or two to glimpse Francis through fence wire.

Roughly 10 minutes later, a crowd of onlookers were happily stunned as security officers quickly motioned them to the sidewalks to let a Fiat 500L pass by. From an open window, Pope Francis waved to the crowd.


Ray Wreckless holds up flags as he tries to sell Pope Francis paraphernalia in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.


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