For those waiting in line, solemn faces but warm stories
The faces of thousands of people waiting in line to pay their respects to the former head football coach of Penn State, Joe Paterno, are solemn.
Some have tears as they tell stories of their interactions with Paterno and some have slight smiles as they remember the good memories they had with him.
The line from the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center extends beyond the Palmer Museum of Art and is filled with Penn State alumni, students, fans, and people who knew Paterno.
Police officers in bright yellow vests survey the scene, waiting for anybody who would need their assistance.
A man, his wife and his daughter leave the viewing wearing long black coats and formal attire. They stand out among the people dressed in blue and white. The man, Pete Daily, has known Paterno since he was a child.
“I have so many memories of Joe. I grew up with him in my house and eating with me at the dinner table,”
Daily’s dad had been a coach with Paterno in the 1960s, and Daily drove from Harrisburg with his family to pay his respects.
People who did not even know Paterno drove hours for the viewing. Vic and Andrea Mangeney drove in Tuesday night from South Jersey.
The four-hour drive and an hour-and-a-half wait was something they felt they needed to do, even without the personal connection to Paterno.
“[Paterno] was just someone so special. He has been the only person that jumped into my heart and has transcended the ages,” Vic Mangeney said.
In the middle of the line, on top of a ledge, four Penn State rugby players serve hot chocolate from coolers to the people who are waiting.
There is a donation can by the coolers to collect for THON and the Special Olympics.
The players heard about everyone waiting in line for hours and decided that they needed to help, Blaze Feury (sophomore-energy business and finance) said.
Feury said they called local businesses, which donated the hot chocolate, and at nine on Tuesday night they started to serve it. They kept going until the line was through and then resumed Wednesday morning.
Once the line was finished for the night, the players went to the viewing. Feury said it was unreal because he had never been that close to him.
“To see the look on Jay Paterno’s face, it just felt like it was a good thing we were doing to support him,” Feury said.
Before going to work in Shanksville, Suzanne and Bryon Heller came to pay tribute to a great human being, she said.
Suzanne Heller said she married into Penn State student tickets and had the pleasure of meeting Paterno at female football camp at Beaver Stadium.
“I’ve always admired him; everything that he did was honorable,” she said.
Three Penn State students who had been waiting for an hour and made it to the middle of the line talked about their memories of past football games they had attended.
Kaitlin Rando (junior-secondary education) had tears in her eyes as her voiced cracked trying to talk about Paterno.
“He was a grandfather figure and the string that held [Penn State] together,” Rando said.
To wake up early and drive two hours from the Penn State commonwealth campus in Harrisburg was nothing to Rando, who would not have missed the viewing.
To Jennifer Gordon (junior-marketing), mourning for Paterno has brought everyone together.
“It unifies us as a university because we are all part of this together and are one big family,” Gordon said.