Last night on my way home from the office I took a few photos of the illuminated Joe Paterno statue and the things fans had been leaving in support.
This morning my alarm went off at 4:30 am and I was up and out of bed right away. It was an early start after a late night at the office, but rumor swirling that the Paterno statue would be taken down this morning had me heading to Beaver Stadium.
When I arrived at the statue it looked as it had when I stopped on my way home last night, it was dark out, and just the lights illuminated Joe, the players on the wall and the season plaques that surrond him. There were several students lingering and a few comfortable in lawn chairs.
As the sun started to rise there was a sudden commotion. Doors from the stadium opened and out poured several dozen police officers. As they walked towards the statue trucks started to round the corner and and approach the area. The cops informed everyone to cross the street and students took their last embrace of the statue.
The cops lined the street as they started to build barricades and then fences around the area. Two dump trucks blocked the road in one direction, and two trash trucks in the other.
From the fences the crew hung no trespassing signs and danger signs, before cover the wire with blue tarps.
A fork lift was brought out of the stadium as crews wrapped the statue in plastic and blankets.
Then came the jackhammering. The noise droned on for about 45 minutes as the dust rose in the air.
I was also creating a video of the process so have video as they lifted the statue just enough to swing it down and walk it to the stadium. As the garage door of the stadium closed a “We Are… Penn State” chant echoed along the street.
After a decent amount of time the crew returned, and started sawing and prying everything off the walls that homed the statue. Paterno’s name, a quote he had said and the season plaques were taken down, letter by letter, one by one.
By this point it was getting later in the morning and the crowds of people started to grow to see for themselves what was happening. As I stood perched on the top of a ladder to see over the fences I noticed people taking photos of a sign on the light post. The sign read, “15 Min. Patero Statue Visitor Parking Only.”
The large players running off the wall behind the statue were stubborn and the crews battled to find a way to pull them down. After several failed attempts they hung a tarp so viewers couldn’t see.
People stopped by as the day went on and looked to the site where the statue had stood proudly for several years.