Inspiration Mural , located near the corner of Heister Street and College Avenue, will soon expand with a new sidewalk as a tribute to Joe Paterno and other State College folk, Inspiration mural artist Michael Pilato said.
The Public Art Academy is offering the public an opportunity to purchase bricks to be a part of a tribute to inspirational figures of State College, according to the Public Art Academy website. The sidewalk, to be called “Inspiration Way,” will be made up of three different sized bricks, stones and granite centerpieces, all of which can be engraved with a message allowing people to show their support for the Penn State community, Pilato said.
The sidewalk will go under the mural and wrap around the corner of the Student Bookstore , 330 E. College Avenue.
Pilato said when he began the mural in 1999 he had no idea it would turn out to have the impact it does today.
“I wanted to give back to the community and those who inspired me including my teachers, professors, the downtown businesses and many other great people,” Pilato said.
Many of the bricks will display people’s favorite memories of Paterno, including his many quotes, Melinda Wright, manager of Inspiration Way, said.
Wright said the larger stones are being used for people to write their own personal story or a specific memory.
“One person is having their brick engraved about the time they met Sue [Paterno] in the library, while many students are engraving their names and year of graduation,” Wright said.
Wright said she believes Inspiration Way is going to be a great place for people to come together and pay their respect for Paterno and many other influential public figures who are displayed in the mural. Bricks and stones for those who are painted in the mural itself will be placed under their picture commemorating them.
Pilato is looking forward to adding additional figures to the mural that exhibit Penn State’s culture such as Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, the Blue Band, and Penn State academic programs such as agriculture, meteorology and engineering. Specific individuals include Penn State Graduate Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a United States Navy Seal who was killed in combat in 2005, and Lt. Brandan McCombie, United States Navy Seal who died in combat in 2002.
Director of the Penn State Marching Blue Band Richard Bundy said he was pleased to learn about the addition of the Blue Band to the mural.
“When people think of Penn State, the Blue Band comes to mind with our strong ties to the university,” Bundy said.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said she is looking forward to the new project because “at the end of the day, we are all humans.”
“There is a lot of respect for Joe in this town. He was a coach that was connected to this town,” Goreham said. “No matter what the final outcome is, as a community we want to show our support and affection for him.”
The construction for phase one of the new sidewalk is slated to begin mid-spring. The funds from the project will be used to add a protective coat to the mural to shield it from environmental factors, Pilato said. Funds will also be used to acquire a new executive director for the Public Art Academy, of which Pilato is the current director.
Inspiration Way will be made up of bricks and stones in the following sizes: 4” x 8” red bricks, 8” x 8” bluestones and 12” x 12” diamond granite centerpieces. To purchase a brick guests can visit the website www.inspiratonway.org.