In an exercise that was a little awkward and a bit cute, dozens of people walking to work stopped momentarily to pose with a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis in Daley Plaza on Tuesday morning.
Kimberly Carter, who works for a Loop insurance company, was briefly perplexed by where to stand or place her hands next to the smiling Pope, an image that was more lighthearted emoji than lifelike picture.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about this pope,” said Carter, 52. “Everybody is so excited about the pope coming. And he’s shown a liberal side and a compassionate side, and I think that gives people hope. I’m not Catholic, but God is God.”
Catholic Extension, a Chicago-based nonprofit that raises money for poor Catholic parishes around the country, organized the Flat Francis, a riff on the Flat Stanley figures that schoolchildren sometimes send around the globe.
About 12 people from the organization encouraged passersby — occasionally in carnival barker fashion — to pose for a picture along noisy West Washington Street, under the gaze of the Picasso.
“We’ve had about 100 people stop for a picture since we set up at 7:30 a.m.,” said Matt Paolelli, digital communications manager for the group.
The pope arrive in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.
Paolelli, 32, who came up with the Flat Francis idea, said Pope Francis saw one before he arrived in the United States on Tuesday.
“He let out a belly laugh when he saw it,” said Paolelli, a graduate of Northwestern University and a Park Ridge native.
Volunteers handed out pamphlets — each containing a tiny Flat Francis to take wherever, snap pics with and post on social media.
The large cardboard cutout was hauled away at 10 a.m. but could make another appearance Tuesday. Updates will be posted to the Twitter handle @Cathextension.