WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sept. 23, Pope Francis is scheduled to say an outdoor mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Chapel Valley is responsible for the site’s ongoing landscape management (20 plus years) and for the additional landscaping that will be performed in honor of the Pope’s visit.
The event is taking place on the east portico of the basilica, and is expected to attract over 30,000 attendees. In order to accommodate the visitors, Chapel Valley must be on site for 18 days to create and maintain a 3.6-acre outdoor space. It will take both maintenance and construction teams to fulfill the landscape requirements.
During this time trees, shrubs, and flowers will be removed and put in a holding area to make room for the stage. Once the event is finished, the plants are expected to be put back exactly as they were prior to the normal mass held every Sunday.
While the stage is being installed, an enhancement crew will be on site to take care of any pruning or plant material requirements. In addition, the crew will prune mature trees to improve sight views.
There will also be a water truck on-site as some of the irrigation zones will be turned off to protect any electrical equipment used on stage. All turf area and plants around the stage and jumbo screen will be hand-watered in lieu of the standard irrigation.
“From tree transplanting, regular maintenance, to watering – the grounds need to be a show case site even throughout all the foot traffic and construction. Pressure is on from the Basilica but we are prepared with a great staff in place,” says Danny Wenner, Chapel Valley’s property manager, who has been attending weekly meetings for two months in preparation of the Pope’s visit.