World Meeting Of Families Festival in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA--(WTXF)--This is all setting up for a big night out here on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The World Meeting of Families 2015 is holding its big "Festival of Families,” and it will be a star-studded event.

Pope Francis began his parade on the Parkway shortly after 7 p.m.

Mark Wahlberg is going to be the host of the event. Some of the performers include Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, The Fray, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Franklin said she will give the pope a box set of sermons by her father, civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, a famous preacher in his own right.

She also says she will sing "Amazing Grace" tonight, and one other surprise song. She says she chose amazing grace for its universal appeal. She sang it on her best-selling live gospel album of the same name decades ago.

The reason for this big party, and the pope's visit to the U.S., is thanks in part to the World Meeting of Families. The event kicked off earlier this week.

But what exactly is it?

It’s a four-day international conference generally held every three years.

St. John Paul II initiated it in 1992, and it started in 1994 in Rome.

It is intended to strengthen the sacred bonds of families across the world.

This year's theme is "Love is our mission: The family full alive."

This is the first time the meeting has been held in the United States.

Here's a little did you may not know about the Parkway. It is modeled on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The Parkway was built between 1917 and 1926 in an attempt at urban renewal.

A lot of people are wondering  who is paying for all of this weekend’s festivities? Per their contract, the World Meeting of Families will pay the City of Philadelphia $12 million to cover the preparation costs for Pope Francis' visit.

Nearly half of that will go towards police, with another $4 million towards the fire department, which includes emergency services.


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