Saturday, October 17, 2009

Be Part of History and Enjoy The Snow Bowl for Homecoming

Snow was the last thing I expected this week. I had hoped that today’s game would have been fall football at its best – a lively homecoming crowd, a 3:30 game with lots of tailgating, a good Big Ten contest against a decent team, Minnesota. It should be sweatshirt weather, not long underwear and winter outerwear. The height of fall foliage was expected, including Mount Nittany in all its brilliant autumn glory. Instead, we have to figure out basics – like how to get to the game.

Yesterday morning, we got an emergency text message on my cell phone from Penn State stating that all grass parking lots, including ours, will be closed for tomorrow’s game. Go online to get more info at Easier said than done!

We had no power in our house. No Internet access as a result. It was darn cold. I started writing this yesterday under a few blankets. I had about an hour left of battery on my laptop. Normally I work from home on Fridays. But I went to the office to check the Internet, recharge my laptop, and find out about bus locations. And stay warm.

Emailed our friend from Allentown who’s supposed to meet us at our tailgate spot and told him we’ll see him at the seats. Did some work I was planning to do from home. Got out of the parking garage before the Homecoming parade started. Deferred the laundry until the power came back, expected by 6 p.m. Saturday! Stopped by Wal-Mart to buy batteries, perhaps a lantern, and other things to prepare for another 24 hours at least of a power outage and was unsuccessful. Everything was sold out. Decided we had to get by with what we already had at home – plenty of candles and two flashlights. No heat. Lots of tree branches down in our yard. Fortunately none hit our house. Will have to deal with those later.

Bought subs at Subway for dinner. And ice for cocktails – we didn’t want to open the freezer. It had been a long day, and a martini would taste good. Prepared for an evening by candlelight.

It’s October. This isn’t supposed to happen in Pennsylvania in October!

We should count our blessings. At least we live close by. Our friends who travel from the Allentown area have to cope with getting here first, then figuring out where to park.

Later yesterday, Penn State announced free shuttle busses from a variety of new locations. No tents allowed for tailgating. If you have reserved parking in a paved lot, you have to be there before 11 a.m. and you may not park in your usual spot. After 11 a.m. the general public will be allowed to park in those lots. Called or emailed a few more long distance friends with reserved parking and let them know about the situation.

Guess we’ll take a bus tomorrow from some retailer’s parking lot in State College. The forecast is for another inch of snow – a mix of rain and snow. This is ridiculous, but Penn State is doing the best they can. They are concerned about safety and this is a crisis.

I don’t want to park in a muddy parking lot anyhow. Been there, done that. After a very rainy Temple game in November 2006, I wound up with a sprained ankle and a six-week recovery after sliding down a slight hill in mud to get to my parking space. Maneuvered around campus to my classes in a motorized cart because I couldn’t walk for six weeks. Discovered how many handicapped access doors on campus don’t really work very well. Penn State is definitely doing the right thing by closing the grass lots.

We will dress for late November, not mid October! But we will be okay. I wasn’t so sure last night. But our power was restored about 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Our internet access wasn't restored until this morning, but that wasn't a major problem.

The last time we had a “Snow Bowl” was November 18, 1995. It was a key game against Michigan. Our situation was different then. We were living in Easton, PA, 185 miles from Beaver Stadium. We had reserved parking in a paved lot, but there was 16 inches of snow on the ground, and ALL parking lots were closed. Terry and I had just bought a new car, picked it up that week. Our usual plan was to leave early Saturday a.m. to get to the game. We were worried about driving to that game in our brand new car – where the heck would we park? We were seriously thinking about staying home.

Joe Paterno had come on TV encouraging people to come to the game even with no parking. So over dinner at a restaurant Thursday night, I said to Terry, “As soon as we get home, let’s call the Penn Stater Hotel. Let’s see if there are some cancellations. See if they have shuttles to the game. If we can get a room for Friday and Saturday, our car will be safe, and we can take a shuttle. Worst case is we walk to the game from there– it’s not that far.”

So that’s what we did. Sure enough, there were cancellations. We both left work early, drove to State College on Friday rather than Saturday, and the shuttle busses from the Penn Stater worked extremely well. In fact, we were very impressed. It was smoother and quicker than driving to the game and parking in our normal space.

There was about 8 inches of snow packed at our seats. Not much room. It was very cold. But we had our L.L. Bean hunting boots with one-inch thick felt liners and lots of other warm clothes. And we also had two extra tickets that gave us a bit of extra space – they were selling for $10 at the game so we kept them. The game itself was a great deal of fun. We won 27-17. We were very glad that we went! 80,000 people also braved the elements to attend that game.

Somehow we’ll cope with the weather. So will everyone else.

The Penn State spirit will prevail. After all, we’re part of an historic event. The last time it snowed close to this much in State College on this date was in 1901, according to the Weather Channel on Friday.

So instead of complaining about no parking, we should just get into the spirit of the event. It will be different – no tents for tailgating – but it will still be fun. It will be something to talk about for years to come.

This isn’t supposed to happen in October. But that’s the way it is. It’s just another glitch that will make an interesting story. Sometimes, that’s the way it is if you’re an avid Penn State football fan.

Enjoy the game! And let’s get a win!


  1. Hi Carolyn,
    Gary Saeger from Allentown, once again visiting your blog site. Just wanted to let you know, I truly enjoy reading your interesting and humorous reports. I visit often but don't comment on each visit.
    I do not envy Terry and yourself today. From my cozy warm easy chair and nearby Capt Morgan Pvt Stock, the high def TV picture accurately displays the awful early weather conditions in Happy Valley. Glad I'm home.
    You guys are real troopers!!! Way to Go...

  2. Hi Gary, thanks for your comment. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. We had a good time today at the game - it was a great win! And as long as you dress for it, you can cope with the weather. Only problem was the delay after the game getting on the bus. But overall we were glad we were there!