Laundry baskets of clothes, boxes of dorm supplies and bundles of nerves were among the cargo toted by parents and their children, now college freshmen.
But they couldn't help but to smile or shake their heads as upperclassmen applauded and danced for them as they drove through blaring pop music and a Penn State colored balloon arch to their dormitory buildings.
Thursday was move-in day for many of the 1,447 freshmen moving into campus residence halls and off-campus housing at Penn State Altoona.
"It's a normal class size," spokeswoman Shari Routch said.
All students are scheduled to arrive at campus on Sunday, but dozens of upperclassmen volunteered to help freshmen as they moved in for the 2012 fall semester.
"I know what it's like to be a freshman. It's exciting for what is to come, but it's nerve-racking because I didn't know if I was going to be OK." student leader Jordan Ley of Hanover said.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Freshman Emily Wolpiuk of Trumbull, Conn., gets some help from her mother (right), Mary Wolpiuk, Thursday at St. Francis University in Loretto.
Despite all of the things Megan Scipio of Philadelphia unpacked from her U-Haul, her transition to Penn State Altoona would be tough without taking along her best friend from high school as her roommate.
"She's like a sister to me," Scipio, who's planning to study civil engineering, said.
Her roommate, Ashley Newby-Hall of Philadelphia, was making her first trip to the mall in town, Scipio said as she unpacked.
While some freshmen socialized after unpacking their luggage, others went to work at part-time jobs.
Donald and Ann Hurley of New Jersey waited for their freshman daughter who was finishing her first day of work as a server at the campus' Port Sky Cafe.
While they soaked in the Penn State atmosphere, the Hurleys were surprised to see the campus book store selling books about Joe Paterno.
The criminal acts committed by Paterno's former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, with children on Penn State's University Park campus may be the top Penn State news story, but to the Hurleys, it is no reason to be apprehensive about sending their child to a Penn State campus.
"The scandal has no bearing on academics of the school. It is a top academic school. That's what we look for," Hurley said.
Steve Zarlinski, retired superintendent of Brockway Area School District, helped one of his grandaughters, a freshman pre-medical student, move into her dorm on Thursday.
"It's a great campus, a good school. It's safe and clean," Zarlinski said.
With his parents more than 200 miles away in Collegeville, the first day at Penn State Altoona wasn't as strange as Tyler Lozniak, 18, thought.
"I like it, I can do things on my own time," he said.
His mother would be proud to know he plans on keeping his room clean.
More than 450 college freshmen also moved into dormitories Thursday at Saint Francis University in Loretto. Classes there begin Monday.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.