Friday, September 7, 2012
Penn State Lion Shrine
The Penn State Nittany Lion Shrine is said to be the most photographed spot on campus. It is also believed to be the second most photographed object in Pennsylvania, following the Liberty Bell. Numerous graduates and bridal parties have been photographed near the Lion. It was donated by the class of 1940, and is located near Rec Hall. Rec Hall is one of the most recognizable buildings on the Penn State Campus, and is home to to Penn State Men’s & Women’s Gymnastics, National Champion Men’s & National Champion Women’s Volleyball, Men's and Women's Soccer and Men’s Wrestling.
In 1966 Sue Paterno (wife of football coach Joe Paterno), and a friend secretly splashed water-soluble orange paint on the Nittany Lion statue the week of the Syracuse game in an effort to raise some school spirit for the game. It rained, and the small amount of paint they had splattered on the lion washed off. But the Syracuse fans were still blamed for the incident. The following year in an effort to get even, the Syracuse fans covered the statue in oil-based paint, which was tougher to remove. Since then, Students and Alumni, led by the Lion Ambassadors, guard the Lion Shrine every homecoming.
I was on the Penn State Campus earlier this week for a training program. My travelling companions and I were not sure exactly where to find the shrine, and drove around the campus (mis)guided by gps looking in vain for the statue. We finally stopped among the many students milling about the campus, and unfortunately stopped in front of a group of foreign students, who thought we were looking for the recently removed Joe Paterno statue. The young man adamantly informed us that there was "No more statue...statue gone!" We repeated again that we were looking for the lion statue, and he struck the famous Joe Paterno pose with his finger in the air indicating Number 1, and said, "You mean this statue?". Being teachers (in fact 2/3's of us were teachers of middle school and high school students) we managed to keep a straight face until we pulled away, still unsure of where to find the lion!