As you make your way down College Avenue, your eye is drawn to a glimmer from the sun which rarely seems to shine during this time of year. You look over and the glimmer subsides — you see a bronze pig and its two bronze piglets.
Yes, we agree, it seems pretty strange. But there’s a fun little history lesson behind it all, and it starts with this picture:
This picture was taken along College Avenue in 1894 and shows a pig rummaging around for food near the corner of College Avenue and Allen Street. Two years later in 1896, the borough of State College was officially incorporated. The State College Borough Council decided to celebrate the borough’s centennial in 1996 and commissioned a statue based off of the picture above.
The result? The bronze pigs that can be found downtown in the McAllister Alley near The Tavern. These pigs have a combined weight of 500 pounds. Some real porkers. The piglets even developed the names “Ed,” which is short for “education,” and Hope.
On July 25, 2001, two Penn State students were arrested for stealing Ed. According to a Collegian article, the piglet had been missing since June 13 of that year and was returned after an anonymous tip. The two students responsible – Nicholas Basile and Blair Whitehead – had been walking home from a downtown bar when they noticed that Ed was loose from his granite base.
Whitehead shook Ed until he broke off from the base and the two students left the scene with the bronze piglet hidden underneath a shirt. Ed stayed in Basile’s apartment until the two were talked into returning the stolen statue.
In a burst of brilliance and after wiping Ed clean of any fingerprints, the two decided not to return the statue at all. Instead, they got rid of him in the back stairwell of Basile’s apartment building. Luckily, someone found the statue and called the police.
Ed was returned to his rightful spot and the two students were released from jail after confessing to the theft and paying a $1,000 bond. Ed was attached in a more secure way following the incident, so a repeat incident is much less likely.
So next time you walk downtown, you’ll understand the rich history that comes along with the metallic pig trio gracing one of the most iconic spots in State College.