ALTOONA - A two-day festival highlighted the impact of the Penn State Altoona campus to the region, as well as the local community support the school has received and appreciated for more than seven decades.
"It's just a fun day," Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry said of the "Happy Birthday event" while signing copies of a book detailing the school's history.
The school began its rich local history on Sept. 19, 1939.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski)
Doobie Brothers vocalists and guitarists Pat Simmons, left, and Tom Johnston perform Sunday night at the Jaffa Shrine Center. Fans packed the venue, and the crowd was estimated at 3,000.
"The thing that hasn't changed in 70 years is the never-ending support of the community," Bechtel-Wherry said. "This is our way of saying thank you for our community."
On Saturday, activities were held on the school's campus in conjunction with Family Weekend and several sporting events.
The event ended Sunday night with a performance by the Doobie Brothers at the Jaffa Shrine Center. Student band Hope Fallacy was the opening act.
Hollidaysburg natives Gina and Rich Amberson were in town visiting family from their home in Raleigh, N.C. Despite being University of Pittsburgh graduates, they appreciated the large amount of Penn State pride in the air.
While waiting in line for
balloon art from entertainer Dennie Huber for their sleepy 2-year-old son, Joey, the couple said community support is something unique to Penn State.
"I think Penn State is doing great things for Altoona," Gina said while her husband noted the improvement of several buildings in the downtown area.
Hollidaysburg resident Gaby Montero was pushing her 1-year-old grandson around in a stroller near the dancing and entertaining Nittany Lion. Montero's daughter went to the college, and she said her great-grandson would be a fan, as well.
Despite the large crowds along 12th Avenue, Montero said more families should be enjoying the chance to support the university.
"I wish more people from town were here," she said. "It's wonderful."
Penn State Altoona students Nicole Tennekoon and Caroline McKenna were handing out university magnets at a booth along the road. Both were representing the student government association.
"It's a good way for the community to come out and meet the students and see how involved the students are in the community," said McKenna of Wall, N.J. "Penn State is all about tradition. It's like everyone is just passing the pride down from generation to generation."
Seeing the large number of alumni bringing their families to the event was an exciting part of attending for Tennekoon of Long Island, N.Y.
"They're going to raise their children to be Penn State fans," she said.