The misty air smelled like carnival food: pulled pork, popcorn and soft pretzels. Lion ambassadors were everywhere- walking backwards as usual. A tour guide would call out "WE ARE!" each time they passed through the crowd. You could predict the response.
I spun in a three-sixty as a trumpet rendition of the Fight Song wafted on the damp breeze. The Nittany Lion posed with giggling prospective students. To my left there was a stand for class rings and to my right towered over one-hundred years of Penn State tradition.
No- I'm not talking about Blue and White Weekend (that's not until tomorrow). I'm talking the Bell Tower- this Wednesday was the Old Main Open House.
My friend and I waited an hour holding our florescent yellow tickets for the tour. This PSU tradition has been on my friend Katie's bucket list for years, and as a senior her clock was ticking. Being a freshman, I figured I'd get a head start and check this off my list early.
I had never really explored Old Main before. Inside were grand, open staircases and a lofty ceiling: an elegant cross between a hotel lobby and a ball room. A girl dressed as Abraham Lincoln met us in front of the imposing Fresco painting that spanned the walls. She explained the Morrill Land Grant and Lincoln's role in providing the government funding to start "The Farmer's High School." She pointed out Lincoln on the mural, along with Evan Pugh, Penn State's first president.
After Honest Abe came Henry Varnum Poor, the artist who painted the frescos in the 1930's and 1940's. In a faux-French accent (?) he guided us around the upper balcony and past scenes of early agriculture and student life. Fun Fact: all the young faces in the murals were actual Penn State students.
Henry's section of the tour landed us at the entrance to the Bell Tower. I fidgeted anxiously as we waited for our turn. The bell tower rings loud, and it's a constant presence in my Atherton Dorm- especially on PSU's recent birthday- when it rang once for every year. I wondered if the view was as impressive as the sound.
Ascending the stairs and stepping out onto the misty stone balcony I wasn't disappointed. Even on the overcast day the view was spectacular. I could see all of campus, and into the town beyond. The blue shadow of Mount Nittany hovered beyond the fog.
Maybe the air up there was cleaner and clearer, because I felt refreshed as I took in the amazing scene. It's nice to get a change of perspective in this hectic pre-finals times. Literal or otherwise. I looked at the students walking to class below and now think about the generations of students who have walked the same steps for nearly two-hundred years. They have left us a beautiful legacy, I think, now looking out my window at the clock's golden glow. We have high heights to aspire too.