With spirits still high from the Homecoming pep rally, many students flocked to the Lion Shrine anxiously waiting to hear Sue Paterno speak.
The annual Guard the Lion Shrine event has been a Penn State tradition for many years. Sue Paterno started the event back in 1966 during Joe’s first year of coaching.
Shae Randolph, a Lion Ambassadors committee member, said that compared to previous years there seemed to be a higher turnout. Randolph (junior-political science) said that the group marketed the event well, and students were excited to come out and be a part of it.
The event was a culmination of a whole week of guarding the shrine.
Brad Fratangelo, a member of Penn State’s ROTC program, guarded the shrine in six 30-minute shifts throughout the week.
Fratangelo was a member of his high school’s color guard and was looking to join something similar when he arrived at Penn State. When he heard about the guarding of the Lion Shrine, he said he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.
“It’s a good tradition that has developed at Penn State. It’s an event that values protection and guardianship and that is what the ROTC is all about,” he said.
Paterno had the crowd laughing with her recollection of how the event started. Football games were not as exciting as they used to be compared to today, she said. Women would wear dresses and men wore nice slacks and shirts.
“It was like you were at the Easter parade,” she said. “No one cheered, they would just clap,” she said. “If you made the mistake of standing up and cheering, you would get a ‘Down in front please.’”
When Joe became the new head coach, Paterno said it was time to “get back to the high school thing.” She wanted people cheering and getting excited for the games so she came up with a plan.
“If you paint the lion orange, it’ll enrage the students,” she said.
With help from two other football coaches’ wives, Paterno went out the night before the Syracuse game and painted the lion orange.
“It was beautiful,” she said.
Paterno said that the next morning Joe called her and said that they knew who had painted the lion and they were going to arrest them.
When Sue Paterno asked Joe how he knew it was her, he replied, “You had orange paint on your trench coat.”
Paterno said later that evening, the couple attended a dinner with some of the football coaches and their wives.
“You could hear people asking, ‘Who would do something like that to the Lion Shrine?’” she said.
As a result of this, the guard the Lion Shrine event was started the next year, she said.
For Tiffany Wahl and her mom, seeing Sue Paterno speak and getting a picture with her after was the highlight of their night.
Wahl (junior-industrial engineering) said that after everything Paterno has been through, it was great to see her still come out and show her support.
“It’s good for Sue to see how much everyone still loves her and the school,” Wahl’s mother Abby said.