STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - On this Sunday morning, six months to the day after the death of Joe Paterno, Penn State removed the famous statue of the man from its spot outside of Beaver Stadium.
"It was like a second death," said alum Torill Nelson. "All over again."
She was part of a small crowd. By the time a forklift carried the Paterno statue into an east entrance of Beaver Stadium, maybe 50 people stood around, watching, their view obscured by a makeshift blue fence.
At 7 a.m. Penn State president Rodney Erickson issued a statement detailing the school's decision to remove the statue and store it in a "secure location."
"I believe that, were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse," he said.
About 30 minutes before his statement, police began arriving at the statue and securing the perimeter with a blue fence. They barricaded the north and south entry points to Porter Road by the stadium.
Though Ms. Nelson didn't hear the news until this morning, she expected the statue's imminent removal. On Friday, reports circulated that the statue would be removed this weekend, though the school and members of the board of trustees publicly denied having made any decision.
The news was enough to ignite a stream of visitors. On Friday and Saturday, people, including Sue Paterno and former player Franco Harris, formed lines so they could get a final look or picture of the statue. A handful of the visitors kept vigil late into Friday and Saturday night with only a few on hand to actually witness the monument's removal.
At about 7:45 a.m. today, construction workers began using jackhammers to pry the statue out of the ground. By 8:22, the statue was gone, taken into the stadium.
The crowd remained for a few minutes longer. They started their school's famous chant, crying out "We are Penn State" one final time for the statue they didn't want to see go.
Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published July 22, 2012 11:45 AM