An Ode To The Friday Before A Home Football Game
I swear the feeling in the Happy Valley air changes as soon as Old Main’s bell chime does on Friday afternoons.
You come out of class and you hear the distinct toll of “Hail to the Lion” welcoming you to the weekend. The air is brisk, people are excited, and there’s a football game tomorrow.
Friday evenings are unique no matter where you are — what was homework, exams, and deadlines not five minutes before is suddenly inconsequential. In that moment, it doesn’t matter how much work you have to do on Sunday — you’ve made it through another week and there is nothing in your immediate future besides the weekend.
Being in State College the day before a home football game just adds something almost indescribable to that feeling.
You continue the walk from your classroom to your apartment or dorm and it only gets better. If you live off campus, you get to walk home and see car after RV after car pour into State College, Penn State bumper stickers galore. You probably don’t know most of the people driving in, but you’ve never been happier to see them.
Perhaps you don’t live downtown, but you need a new shirt for the following day’s game. A trip to any clothing store includes families shopping, rounding out their Penn State collections of jackets and lawn ornaments. How often do you see kids under the age of 10 in State College? It’s rare, but their presence makes you proud, reminiscent of your own days picking out a Penn State sweatshirt and knowing you’d one day attend the best university in the world.
The magic of a Friday before a home game never fails. Walking downtown provokes the same feeling as walking through Disney. Everyone is happy, friends are meeting up, parents are taking their kids out to eat, Café’s patio is full, and no one is too bashful to display their pride. You can take off your backpack and open a beer and you’ve never felt better about any decision. It’s almost game day, and it starts as soon as you want it to.
Being downtown the Friday before a football game is an experience so unique to Penn State because essentially every person in State College is here for Penn State, and on Fridays, almost everyone you walk past is here for the game and the culture. There’s music, free food, people giving away buttons and stickers, dogs, the farmers’ market, and just about 24 hours until kickoff. Everyone you pass is just as excited about it as you are.
Some may argue that tailgating or the game itself are what draw pride among Penn Staters, but nothing brings us together like that Friday-before-a-home-game feeling does. Penn State’s rich culture, dedicated alumni base, and student pride are on full display, and being among other Penn Staters is the best thing about a football weekend, if not the best thing about this university.