Blue-White Weekend: Activities abound at Penn State

More traffic than usual on the two-lane U.S. Route 322, a deluge of shoppers grabbing tailgating food at local grocery stores and a bunch of candidates for the Penn State board of trustees stumping and roaming the grass fields on a spring day.

They’re all indicative of the Blue-White annual spring football game on Saturday and is the highlight of a weekend of activities.

A big change for this year’s game came out of heightened security concerns after the explosions at the Boston Marathon earlier this week.

Visitors to Beaver Stadium cannot bring bags, backpacks, purses, umbrellas, or footballs.

The event is now not kid-friendly, as strollers and diaper bags are not permitted either.

People who need to carry medical supplies can put them in a clear, one-gallon plastic bag, and the same goes for parents who need diapers and wipes.

The Blue-White weekend activities start Friday in the late afternoon.

A carnival is set for 6 to 10 p.m. west of Beaver Stadium. There is also a wingfest and a concert from the band Velveeta from 6 to 8 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m.

Before the game on Saturday, coach Bill O’Brien and his seniors will be at the Nittany Lion Club’s Blue-White breakfast at the Bryce Jordan Center starting at 8:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 865-5555.

New this year is an autograph session featuring athletes from the basketball, hockey, soccer, swimming and diving and women’s gymnastics teams. It will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. west of Beaver Stadium near the event stage.

Sunday features the fourth Beaver Stadium 5K run/walk that benefits the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. Last year’s run raised about $310,000.

This year, the run/walk will honor Nittany Lion and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris with an award for his support to the Special Olympics and the community.

The race starts on campus near the Bryce Jordan Center, travels through campus and finishes at the 50-yard line inside Beaver Stadium.

The presence of Penn State trustee candidates traversing the fields surrounding the stadium is a relatively new concept. There was a meet-the-candidates forum last year that was part of the Blue-White weekend, but this year, no formal event has been scheduled.

Instead, candidates are making trips here from their homes in the hope of meeting and swaying alumni who have yet to vote in the election that runs through May 2.

Candidate Scott Kimler, of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, was in Boston earlier this week where his wife ran in the marathon. The two heard the explosions and were safe.

He’ll be hosting a tailgate for his grassroots organization Penn Staters for Reforming the Board of Trustees, but the location and timing hasn’t been set in stone yet.

Prior to the start of the game, Kimler is among the scores of people who will take part in a walk from the mural “Inspiration” on Hiester Street to the stadium. The 10 a.m. walk is to honor those who died in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Another group, Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, will have a tailgate near the corner of University Drive and Park Avenue, said Maribeth Schmidt, the group’s spokeswoman.

And Blue-White weekend wouldn’t be complete without some threat of weather interrupting.

Friday’s carnival stands the greatest threat, as a line of thunderstorms and gusty winds is expected to move into the area in the afternoon and evening, said Mike Dangelo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College.

As for Saturday, the cold front that brought in the storms the night before will leave temperatures in the 40s when the game starts at noon, Dangelo said.

Winds will pick up, too.

“This year the kicker will have even more fun trying to put the ball through the uprights,” he said.