PLAINS TWP. – Whether cheering in unison or licking their wounds after a score from Minnesota, Penn State fans found camaraderie with each other during a tailgating party Saturday at The River Grille.
Giving fans a place to vocalize their passion while donating to the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Alumni Society, the event was organized by both the alumni group and The River Grille.
Decked out with Penn State jerseys or sweatshirts, fans began arriving at 11:30 a.m. and could enjoy free food and drinks throughout the Penn State-Minnesota game. Admission was $28 person.
Patrons could participate in a 50/50 drawings and raffles to win any number of Penn State apparel and gift certificates for local restaurants, or donate to Thon, a student organization benefiting children with cancer, said Karen Hodle, external alumni relations assistant with Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
Funds raised will be used to fund student scholarships and student trips and to fund the Struthers Family Career Service Center at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus, she said.
Ralph Winsock, Penn State Wilkes-Barre Alumni Society treasurer, said last year they earned close to $1,000. He added some of the funds are used to benefit the community such as helping inner city youth through programs.
Many alumni were initially contacted by mail or email in advance of the event. Hodle said she has 101 pre-registered alumni and 11 walk-ins.
Charles Davis, chancellor at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, said the Alumni Society does various activities to benefit the students and this has become a popular event.
“People wait for this event,” he said. “The River Grille has been very generous.”
Set up buffet style, patrons could help themselves to any number of hot dishes. The deck was full of Penn State fans and the bar area was slowing filling up. The Nittany Lion was ready to pump up the crowd.
Mark West, owner of The River Grille, said the Penn State crowd is normally a vocal but friendly one.
“About two years ago, a bartender came wearing a Notre Dame jersey,” he said. “They are a fun group.”
As far as game predictions, Davis thought the game would end with Penn State up by three points. Penn State alumnus, Eric Schwartz of Kingston, did not want to jinx the game.
“We got off to a bad start,” he said. “I do not like to predict.”
Unfortunately Penn State lost to Minnesota, 24-10.