In the year since Jerry Sandusky’s arrest on child sexual abuse charges, once omnipresent images of coach Joe Paterno have quickly receded from the Penn State campus and downtown State College — moves some residents think were too sudden.
“I think it was very brash,” said Brock Rider, a sales associate at Rapid Transit Sports. “We need to get some truth and some answers before you make the decisions to do stuff like that.”
Most prominent — and controversial — was the removal last summer of the Paterno statue that stood outside Beaver Stadium. The removal followed the release of the Freeh report on July 12. Since then, noticeable changes along College Avenue include the spread of “O’Brien’s Lions” T-shirts replacing the “Joe Knows Football” shirts that were prominently displayed in store windows for years.
Rapid Transit, at 115 S. Allen St., has noticed that sales of Paterno-related shirts are “slowing down a little bit,” Rider said, and customers’ attention has shifted “more toward the kids and the people that are actually playing out there.”
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Still, the statue’s removal, the Freeh report and other developments over the summer drove some customers to buy more Joe Paterno gear. The Family Clothesline, 352 E. College Ave., prints its own Paterno shirts and has seen them sell quickly.
Changed several times has been the mural by artist Michael Pilato on the corner of Hiester Street and College Avenue. Pilato painted a halo over Paterno’s head shortly after his death on Jan. 22. After the release of the Freeh report, Pilato painted over the halo and added a blue ribbon on Paterno’s lapel, a symbol of support for child sex abuse victims.
Other changes have included renaming Paternoville, the campus club that camps outside the stadium before home football games, as Nittanyville, a decision made by the club’s student-run executive board.
A HUB eatery called Joegies was renamed HUB Subs when it reopened at the start of the semester. Several large photographs of Paterno in the HUB and in the Carnegie Building were taken down.
Although his statue is gone, small memorials to Paterno have been left at its former location during home football games. One fan even dressed up as the statue for the Ohio State game Oct. 27.
Meanwhile, the popular Peachy Paterno flavor of ice cream at the Creamery is still available and, most prominently, the Paterno Library, made possible by donations from Sue and Joe Paterno, keeps its name.