Blue and White City

Blue and White City

It is mid-morning on Thursday as I gaze around the store and briefly glance across the street to Old Main. Everything is still, minus the tumbleweed moving slowly down East College Avenue... Okay, maybe saying there is tumbleweed outside is taking it a little too far. Clearly central Pennsylvania has had enough rain through the month of August to eliminate that problem. However, the currently sleepy town will look very different 24 hours from now when Penn State fans from across the nation descend on Happy Valley for Penn State’s home football opener against Indiana State University. I like to refer to this time in early September as, “the calm before the storm”.

It is hard to describe the atmosphere in State College on a football weekend unless you have been to the happiest of valleys for a football game. Transformed into the third largest city in Pennsylvania every home football weekend, tens of thousands of fans from across the country pile into cars, RVs, and planes in hopes of seeing a Penn State victory in “Joe’s house”. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is the second largest college football stadium in the country, behind Michigan’s “Big House”, and let’s face it, the “Big House” is just not as impressive being partially built into the ground. Even with the new addition to Michigan’s stadium, if placed side-by-side, Beaver stadium would TOWER above the “Big House”. Known as, “the greatest show in college football,” sports enthusiasts will likely agree that seeing a football game in “Joe’s House” is something everyone who cares about college football should add to their bucket list.

Personally, I will not claim to know much about college football; I will leave that to David and Cory. What I will say is that nothing compares to attending a football game in Beaver stadium. Seeing 100,000 plus people, decked out in blue and white, piling into Beaver Stadium is one of the highlights of fall in Happy Valley.

My experience attending Penn State football games has not changed drastically over the years, minus the four years I spent in the student section. Each and every time, the anticipation of the Blue Band rushing the field excites me as I work my way to the ten-inch seat (yes they are that small), that will be my home for the better part of four hours. Goosebumps cover my arms as the Blue Band drum line’s cadence echoes through the stadium. I am where I belong, with 110,000 of my closest friends. While in our everyday lives we may have little in common, for the next few hours we will be one, supporting decades of pride and tradition…

Buy your own nittany lion mascotFinally comes the magical moment when shadows emerge from the South end zone. Lead by one of the most well-known figures in college athletics, a small man with Coke bottle glasses and rolled up pants, the football team rushes the field in their plain navy jerseys with one goal in mind, to beat the opponent. Electric cheers bounce through the stands as a perfectly synchronized, “WE ARE PENN STATE” rings through the valley. For four 15-minute quarters (when the score is close it feels much longer), fans cheer, high-five, dance to “Zombie Nation”, and yes, occasionally let expletives slip while supporting dear old State. The atmosphere is spectacular, impossible to describe with complete accuracy. When the Nittany Lions bring home a victory a gigantic celebration erupts throughout the valley; when the Nittany Lions lose…well… we won’t talk about that right now.

Sunday arrives and as quickly as people start nursing hangovers from the night before, they start planning for the next home game. Some people drag themselves back to East Halls while others fly back to California; however, it won’t be long before the college town in the middle of cow country is transformed again into a magnificent blue and white city. Although life quickly returns to normal it is the handful of autumn weekends that make living in Happy Valley special.