The bright lights and massive video boards of Beaver Stadium illuminated the Happy Valley sky Sunday night. But the house that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno built was empty.
Paterno, major college football's all-time wins leader, passed away earlier in the day following a battle with lung cancer. He was 85.
The lights at 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium will remain on at night -- and photos of Paterno will be shown on the facility's video boards -- until the university holds a special memorial service for the former coach later this week (expected to be Thursday at the nearby Bryce Jordan Center), according to a source in the athletic department.
Sunday night featured a low cloud ceiling in the region, and the lights emanating from the stadium made it appear as if a bright cloud was floating over the massive steel structure. The blanket of snow that covered the region added to the interesting aura.
Throughout the day, fans flocked into town to pay respects to the Hall of Fame coach, and thousands stopped by the statute of Paterno just outside the stadium to have photos taken and leave mementos. As nighttime fell, they began to notice the bright patch of cloudy sky. Images of the stadium against the unique backdrop began showing up on Facebook and Twitter.
Beaver Stadium's capacity was less than 47,000 when Paterno became head coach at Penn State in 1966. The stadium was enlarged seven different times during Paterno's career, and is now the second largest stadium -- college or professional -- in the United States.
Permanent lights were added in 1984.
Those lights will now burn brightly during the night until the university's memorial service for Paterno.