Lexi Shimkonis writes an ode to the Friday before a home football game:

I swear the feeling in the Happy Valley air changes as soon as Old Main’s bell chime does on Friday afternoons.

You come out of class and you hear the distinct toll of “Hail to the Lion” welcoming you to the weekend. The air is brisk, people are excited, and there’s a football game tomorrow. …

The magic of a Friday before a home game never fails. Walking downtown provokes the same feeling as walking through Disney. Everyone is happy, friends are meeting up, parents are taking their kids out to eat, Café’s patio is full, and no one is too bashful to display their pride. You can take off your backpack and open a beer and you’ve never felt better about any decision. It’s almost game day, and it starts as soon as you want it to.

Being downtown the Friday before a football game is an experience so unique to Penn State because essentially every person in State College is here for Penn State, and on Fridays, almost everyone you walk past is here for the game and the culture. There’s music, free food, people giving away buttons and stickers, dogs, the farmers’ market, and just about 24 hours until kickoff. Everyone you pass is just as excited about it as you are.

Familiarity breeds contempt in some cases, but most often it breeds complacency or cynicism. What college football season brings, with its brief coming together of generations, is context. All of these people who no longer even live there (perhaps returning under Wi-Daagh’s spell) smiling and happy and most importantly together.

It’s the togetherness, the being with others, that brings out the pride.