Inspiration Way, a group led by muralist Michael Pilato, has organized a vigil to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Joe Paterno’s death.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., 409 luminaries — one for each of Paterno’s wins before 111 of his victories were vacated as part of the sanctions handed down by the NCAA — will line Heister Street in front of Pilato’s Inspiration Mural.
Each luminary will be accompanied by a reading of a special message taken from the event’s Facebook page.
One of the group’s organizers, Melinda Wright of Chester Springs, Pa., said that Pilato wanted to create Inspiration Way to help honor Paterno and start the healing process for State College.
While Wright did not attend Penn State, she said Pilato’s concept of creating a space for healing is what attracted her most to this cause.
“[Though] I don’t know if you’re allowed to grow up in Pennsylvania and not be a fan of Penn State,” Wright said, laughing.
The event is one part of the healing process designed by the Inspiration Way group. Pilato’s group also has embarked to create a tribute walkway in front of the Inspiration Mural.
In partnership with Inspiration Way, Pilato’s nonprofit foundation, The Public Art Academy, is offering opportunities for individuals to purchase bricks for the walkway. The brick will offer three to five lines of inscription for personal messages.
According to the Public Art Academy’s website, construction will begin in spring 2013.
“I think honoring Joe is the right thing to do,” former Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler Sr. said. “It is important that we continue to honor the people that have helped us develop that pride and community and being [of Penn State and State College].”
While the Harrisburg native does not know if his schedule will be able to accommodate it, he said he would like to be at the vigil.
Wright could not provide an estimated attendance, but Nittanyville President Troy Weller (senior-journalism) believes it will be high.
“I think people are going to flock to [the vigil and walkway] because of what it means,” Weller said.
The late coach’s widow, Sue Paterno, declined comment on the event.
After hearing about the vigil, an organization called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a statement saying that the candlelight vigil for Paterno was a “tragedy” and it was “frustrating.”
SNAP could not be reached for comment.