Paterno Procession Draws Throng

The Hall of Fame coach made one last ride through campus and downtown State College. The streets were packed with well-wishers wanting to say goodbye to the Penn State legend.

Penn State Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno's funeral service was held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on campus Wednesday.

Following the service, a procession was held to honor Paterno. It went through campus and downtown State College, as well-wishers jammed the streets for a chance to say goodbye to the Nittany Lion legend.

"We love you, Joe," one man yelled as the procession turned a corner near Beaver Stadium."

"You are…!" another man shouted. Others in the crowd responded, "Penn State!," in honor of the familiar "We Are … Penn State" chant.

Police vehicles led the procession, followed closely by the blue hearse carrying Paterno. Behind that was a big blue bus -- the type that carries the Penn State football team to home games -- in which most of Paterno's immediate family sat.

Paterno's wife, Sue, was in the front left seat near the window, waving at fans along the route.

Then came a charter bus carrying members of Sue Paterno's family. Following that, Paterno's youngest son, Scott, drove alone in a gray sedan and at one point along the route could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.

More cars, including one carrying former Penn State running back Franco Harris, followed.

The procession began at the Spiritual Center on campus. As the hearse carrying Paterno pulled out of the driveway, former PSU star running back Ki-Jana Carter looked on and patted his own heart. Nearby, former Nittany Lion receiver O.J. McDuffie put his hands together, as if in prayer, as the hearse pulled away onto Allen Road.

From Allen, the procession turned left onto Curtin Road -- right in front of the Paterno Library. The street was lined with fans for the mile or so it took to get to Beaver Stadium. Passing by the Bryce Jordan Center, those in the procession could see the arena's sign lit up with the words, "Thank you, JoePa."

The crowd was quite with anticipation when the procession reached the corner of Curtin and Porter Road, just past Beaver Stadium. But when the hearse rounded the corner, someone said, "Thank you, Joe." Other shouts and cheers followed.

The procession headed down to College Avenue and turned right, heading into the heart of State College. The sidewalks were jam-packed with fans. The heart of town -- the intersection of College and Allen Street -- was overflowing with people. They pushed out into the middle of the street. People stood and sat atop the huge concrete gate that marks the entrance to campus to get a better view.

There was a buzz in the crowd as the procession neared. Then someone yelled, "remove the headgear," and most people took off their hats out of respect for the coming procession.

Things got quite as the procession arrived. There were a few attempts at starting the "We Are…" chant but it never took off. Most people stood in silence. Some placed white roses on the hearse.

The public part of the procession was over once the vehicles hit Atherton Street, where they all turned left. From there, police manned the many traffic signals on the road, making a clear path for the procession to head south and toward the private burial service in the Centre Hills area of State College.

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