Some of the 409 luminarias lit to commemorate former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno’s collegiate wins as coach are part of a candlelight memorial on the first anniversary of his death in State College, Pa.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Despite a subzero windchill, about 400 Joe Paterno supporters gathered in front of a mural in downtown here to honor the man who commanded Penn State’s football sidelines for 46 years. Students, alumni and fans bundled in jackets, scarves and hats huddle together, taking solace that the night had allowed them to celebrate Paterno’s life surrounded by fellow supporters.
On the one-year anniversary of the longtime Penn State head football coach’s death, 409 luminaries lined Heister Street in front of Michael Pilato’s Inspiration Mural. The number represents each of Paterno’s wins before 111 of his victories were vacated as part of the sanctions handed down by the NCAA in response to a report that alleged top school administrators could have prevented Jerry Sandusky from sexually abusing young boys.
Paterno died in January 2011 of complications related to his lung cancer at age 85.
Pilato spoke briefly about how appreciative he was of the crowd, saying, “We are all here as one big family to honor a great man.” Pilato said Paterno was looking down on Heister Street and would see the “409″ depicted on the Inspiration Mural.
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