Surprise Visitor at Paternoville

Students in Paternoville were scrambling for cell phones and digital cameras Wednesday afternoon, when the tent town's namesake — Penn State football coach Joe Paterno — stopped by for an unannounced visit.

Joe Paterno, who had just finished speaking to the PSU Quarterback Club at Beaver Stadium, joked around with the two dozen or so students who ran up to meet him amid of hail of “oh my Gods,” saying he would only take photos with the girls. After posing for photos (with both genders), signing autographs and talking for about 10 minutes, the coach said, “I really want to thank everyone for doing this.”

After a few more photos, he hopped in his car and drove off. As the car went around the bend, one young lady said, “My father is not going to believe this. I have to call him right now.” She whipped out a cell phone and excitedly punched in the numbers.

Paternoville is a group of about 30 tents just outside of the student entrance to Beaver Stadium. The tents began popping up Sunday in anticipation for this weekend's Big Ten showdown between Penn State and Wisconsin at Beaver Stadium. Both teams are 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference, and the winner has the inside track on the league title.

The Paternoville tradition — at this level, at least — began before the Lions played Ohio State at home earlier this season. Smaller groups of students had been camping out before games the past few years.

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