Clad in a blue Penn State jersey with a bedazzled No. 25 on the front and back, Diane King did Saturday what she does at every home football game.
The Penn State Class of 1987 graduate stood near her family’s white Chevy Suburban with a Penn State-designed overhang in the parking lot between Curtin Road and University Drive. She passed out samples of sweet and spicy sausages made at her family’s Quakertown farm.
She walked around with a dish of the samples in one hand and waved to passersby with the other, urging them to try the pork cuts.
The samples, each with a toothpick through them, were only big enough for one bite, but King said strangers often come back for more.
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“That’s how we end up meeting people,” she said. “At Penn State, whether you know the person or not, it’s still like one big family.”
The Kings were a group of an estimated 65,000 people in attendance at Beaver Stadium for the Penn State Blue-White game, according to Jeff Nelson, spokesman for Penn State’s Intercollegiate Athletics.
It’s an annual spring game described by the athletic department as a “glorified scrimmage.”
The game was the highlight of a weekend that kicked off with activities Saturday morning including an autograph session with football players, such as linebacker Jason Cabinda, who said it’s just a way to give back to fans who support them.
“We’re just glad to be here for them,” he said.
New Jersey residents David Hart Sr. and his son David Hart Jr. attended Saturday’s game specifically to see the 2006 Orange Bowl championship team that’s members were recognized after the third quarter.
“That’s our biggest motivator for being here,” said Hart Sr., who was wearing an ’06 Orange Bowl shirt.
Some fans said the Blue-White game, and all pre- and post-game activities, was the perfect way to start the spring.
“It’s finally feeling like spring should be and (I) don’t think we could have asked for a better day,” said Ginny Henninger, of State College, who attended the game with her two sons Kevin, 12, and Will, 8. “It reminds me of last year — it was just as beautiful out, and we got to see a good game.”
According to the National Weather Service, State College was sunny with a high of 70 degrees.
Scenes around the stadium
▪ Pat Murphy, of Maryland, was sitting in the first row on the home team’s side of the football field near the 50-yard line. He stood up and attempted to get the section of people he was sitting with to start the wave. It failed the first and second times, until a few more people caught on and got a full lap’s worth of fans participating in a stadium-wide wave.
▪ Seven-year-old Lucas Moore, of Clearfield, had a Penn State football poster in his hand. The goal, he said, was to get the autograph of every player during the autograph session prior to the game. Each player grabbed a black permanent marker and signed Lucas’ poster until he approached tackle Sterling Jenkins, who also gave him a high five. That was immediately followed by a fist bump from safety Troy Apke.
▪ Before the start of the game, Penn State Athletics announced NaVorro Bowman would be the honorary captain of the blue team, and Jordan Norwood would be the honorary captain of the white team. That was followed by a roar from fans at Beaver Stadium. Bowman, of the San Francisco 49ers, played football at Penn State from 2006-2009. Norwood, a State College Area High School graduate, won this year’s Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. He played football at Penn State from 2005-2008 and was drafted in the NFL in 2009.
— Britney Milazzo