My Story...Told From Section WDU
Oct. 11, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Annette Parsons's vast majority of her childhood memories are most powerful around fall Saturdays in Beaver Stadium. "It's all I have ever known, my dad was a Penn State alum and graduated in 1954 and absolutely loved this university." Parsons father instilled this love in the family early on, by bringing Annette and her brothers to games before she can remember.
"We never missed a game, we always entered the stadium early and we never, ever, ever left a game early, rain or shine, "said Annette.
As a teenager, she does remember waking up early on Saturdays and waiting for a family friend to pick them up in the RV to join the thousands of other Penn Staters traveling to Happy Valley. For some teenagers, Annette recalls it might have felft like a chore to go to Penn State football games, especially if they fall five home games in a row, but how quickly this dissolves into a deep rooted tradition and passion.
"It's a way of life and as you grow older you start to realize just how special Penn State is," said Parsons. Her father was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and kept a very close friendship with his fraternity brothers. "His fraternity was a part of our family, especially because we did not have a lot of extended family and we referred to them as our aunts and uncles."
She has fond memories of parking just outside the stadium on what used to be grass, surrounded by an array of tailgate spreads accompanied by ice sculptures, and linen table cloths. "The food was out of this world, and the ladies were all dressed to the nines in their blue and whites." While the attire and stadium game day layout has changed, the traditions certainly have not.
The seats have been in the family for over 35 years and to this day she cannot imagine sitting anywhere else except those seats. "This is the view we have had for so long." Parsons recalls her Uncle "Satch," who was her father's fraternity brother, playing in the Alumni Blue Band and practicing before the game, just as many passionate alumni still do to this day.
"It's the same feeling coming back to football games, as it was in the past. I remember as a child if someone had a wedding on a football weekend, it usually meant they were not a Penn State season ticket holder, things were scheduled around football weekends, it is still similar today."
When Parsons was asked to recall one of her favorite memories, the 2006 Fed Ex Orange Bowl with her father won hands down. This game was memorable as it was their first bowl game together and her father even postponed a surgery just so they could attend the game together.
Life lessons learned around football were even more powerful for Parsons. "My dad instilled in me to never try and sell extra tickets we were not using for more than what they were worth. He said you sell tickets for someone else to enjoy and experience the game and you don't try and make money off the sale. He always tried to get them in the hands of a recent grad." Parsons recalls one moment from the Orange Bowl that was a true testament of her father's morals. "We had two extra tickets for the game and it just so happened we met a recent alum who was trying to buy tickets. My dad sold the tickets to him at face value and I remember that just put a big smile on my dad's face."
Attending football games with her dad was something they shared together for many years. Little did she realize that the 2006 Orange Bowl was the last, as Richard passed away prior to the 2007 season.
To this day Parsons still connects with the family friends she grew up with on Saturdays at Beaver Stadium. "I think a lot of Penn Staters are very humble and we think of ourselves as family. What I did my entire life is what thousands of Penn Staters do and we are truly all one."
This past summer Parsons was able to share a unique opportunity when her niece stepped foot on the field at Beaver Stadium for the first time. "We attended the ONETEAM event and my niece absolutely loved the event. She got her picture taken with the lion and the ultimate moment was when she looked up at me and said, `I want to go here.' The fact she got on the field was a once in a lifetime moment."