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Rose Bowl Memories: Readers Respond

Penn State’s trip to the Rose Bowl proved memorable for many fans, as evidenced by the messages that pored into our email inbox. Check out some stories in our recap here, and visit us on Instagram (@pennstatealums) for more submissions.

Penn State’s trip to the Rose Bowl proved memorable for many fans, as evidenced by the messages that poured into our email inbox. Check out some stories below (all photo captions read from left to right), and visit us on Instagram (@pennstatealums) for more submissions.

Mike ’15, Debra, John ’84, Kelsey ’19, Jamie ’17 

As my senior year football season was coming to an end, my dad told me, “No matter where the bowl game is, we’ll be going.” Little did he know that was going to be Pasadena, Calif. My dad had gone to the Rose Bowl back in 1994; he said it was one of the greatest experiences of his life and couldn’t wait to share that experience with all three of his children, who also graduated or will be graduating from Penn State. We spent the week leading up to the game attending the pep rally and the Rose Parade, as well as exploring the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena. We’ve always bled blue and white, and the Rose Bowl was the best way for us to show my dad how grateful we were for him leading us to the best school in the world.
— Jamie Hyde ’17

Dave Coy, Stacie Coy ’00, Braden Bartholomew, Mickey Mouse, Christine Coy ’95, Mark Bartholomew, Jayne Coy, and Marisa Bartholomew

What can you say about Penn State fans that hasn’t already been said? We travel well and “We Are … the friendliest fan base you’ll ever meet.” There is one thing that stands out about our trip to the Rose Bowl. Everywhere we went, there was blue and white. And everyone we passed in Penn State gear said “hello,” gave a wave or a nod, or in most cases, stopped to chat about their trip and experience. Being in Pasadena didn’t feel much different from being in Happy Valley!

The Coy-Bartholomew families traveled to Los Angeles on Dec 30. We spent New Year’s Eve at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure and New Year’s Day sightseeing in Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, and the Hollywood Hills. Our gameday experience started with a 7:00 a.m. tailgate at the Rose Bowl. Highlights from our trip included dining at the Beverly Hills Cheesecake Factory, where the manager designated a Penn State room for the fans to dine together; meeting up with fellow alumni and hometown friends from Catasauqua, Pa., who are now living in the San Diego area; running into familiar faces at the pep rally and fan fest; and making new friends at the game. We are so proud of our 2016–17 Nittany Lions and can’t wait to get back to Beaver Stadium in September!
— Christine Coy ’95

Paul Oris ’81, Kayla Oris (current junior at Penn State), Paul Oris, Jr. ’15, ’16g

My son, my daughter and I had an awesome trip to the Rose Bowl! We ended up sharing tailgates with some USC fans. They were very curious to learn all about Happy Valley, and we were more than happy to share our experiences there with them over a few cold beverages. During the game, my daughter surprised us by showing up at our seats; she made the trip to Pasadena with some of her friends at Penn State. They stayed in San Diego until gameday, and we didn’t expect to see her until after the game. We will cherish the wonderful memories of this trip for the rest of our lives.
— Paul Oris ’81

Jeff Rose ’88, Krista Rose ’89, Karena Bankert, Greg Bankert

My husband and brother-in-law surprised my sister and I with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the 2017 Rose Bowl. My Christmas gift was the last to be opened at our house. In it, I found a Penn State jacket I had admired. When I tried it on, my husband told me to reach in the pocket where I found a note from him: “You may need this for the white-out at the Rose Bowl game. I hear the temperatures may drop into the 50s by the end of the game.” What?! I think I was speechless for at least an hour. On top of the shock, I then had to wait for word from the other side of the state that my sister had finally opened her gift. Along with my mom’s help to buy the tickets, the guys had pulled off the biggest surprise ever. We met in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve and spent a fantastic three days there. It’s hard to describe what it felt like to be among our Penn State family so far from home. Everywhere we went, we saw blue and white and heard the standard greeting, “We Are!” It felt like home away from home. We enjoyed the pep rally, Rose Parade, tailgate, and of course the game. A highlight was viewing the floats up close the following day. I’ve since heard from a friend in California who said his USC friends thought the Penn State fans were the classiest they’d ever met. We Are … proud to be Penn State!
— Krista Rose ’89

Victoria Daub ’16, Shawn Seeley ’16

I was fortunate enough to win the Rose Bowl giveaway from The Family Clothesline and Prime Sports. I entered into the contest while Christmas shopping online and I figured why not. I got an email Tuesday, Dec. 20, saying I was selected. I was able to take a guest with me, and my boyfriend, Shawn, and I got to experience an amazing trip. Since we both graduated in May 2016, we weren’t planning to attend the game. I graduated from the Altoona campus with a B.S. in biology and he graduated from University Park with a B.S. in wildlife and fisheries science. We had a wonderful time on the trip, including the New Year’s Eve party, watching Ohio State get beat with other Penn State fans, being front row at the pep rally, enjoying a trip to Hollywood, the Rose Parade, the tailgate party, and the game! Even though the outcome of the game wasn’t what we all wanted, we had the best time! We had amazing end zone seats. We were mainly surrounded by Penn State fans with a few USC fans. The USC fans near us were great! They welcomed us with open arms and cheered for great plays whether it was Penn State or USC. Overall, it was an amazing time. I was fortunate enough to attend the Pinstripe Bowl with family, but this trip doesn’t even compare to it. It was a trip of a lifetime!
— Victoria Daub ’16

Rick Nussbaum ’79, Mark Nussbaum

I was fortunate enough to attend my third Penn State Rose Bowl game. It was one of the most exciting Penn State games of all time. Getting to the Rose Bowl seemed impossible at halftime of the Minnesota game. This team never quit all year. It was, without a doubt, one of the most fulfilling seasons in history. Even though we lost, I was so very proud of our team. We Are!
— Rick Nussbaum ’79

Donna Brown ’81

My obsession for golf carts and all things Penn State are intertwined. Back in the late 1990s, I “borrowed" a Penn State golf cart after a Penn State victory to ride back to my tailgate in the Winnebago parking section. After a few laps in the cart around our tailgate, I had to surrender the golf cart to security. My husband, Jerry Brown ’82, surprised me for my birthday with my own Penn State golf cart last year, but while at the Rose Bowl, I had to hop on board a Rose Bowl cart. Fortunately, security wasn’t involved this time. The final score wasn’t what we had hoped for but the USC fans were so friendly and good-spirited from start to finish that it made the loss a little more bearable. Our Rose Bowl experience was one of the best football game experiences ever!
— Donna Brown ’81

Mike Hrizuk, ’77, Lindsey Hrizuk ’10

Attending the Rose Bowl this year was the icing on the cake to end a phenomenal, unexpected winning season for the Nittany Lions. This was one of the ultimate experiences to check off my personal bucket list—to travel to a bowl game with the best Alumni Association around. There is no other experience than to be around those who can complete your “We Are,” with “Penn State.” Having watched the struggles and triumphs over the years as a devout Nittany Lion fan, this game was particularly special, as the last time Penn State played USC in the Rose Bowl I was a junior at Penn State. It was an amazing time to watch both teams end their seasons in “The Granddaddy of Them All” after overcoming years of sanctions that had been detrimental to both football programs. It was an especially meaningful trip, because I went with my dad (who is also a Penn State alumnus) and sharing that bond of school pride is indescribable. Of course, along the way I was privileged to meet many fellow Penn State alumni from across the country and was pleased with the overwhelming support that showed up in Pasadena to support our alma mater.
— Lindsey Hrizuk ’10

Kaitlin Quigley ’09, Stephen Quigley ’11

My husband and I were lucky enough to get tickets in the Penn State section for the Rose Bowl. Though we did not know anyone sitting near us when the game started, we had made several friends by the end. The man sitting next to me has two sons who attend Penn State. We exchanged phone numbers and shared pictures and videos of the game. The woman behind me also graduated in 2009, and we shared stories of our favorite Penn State memories from our undergrad years (2005–09). The best friend we made was a baby boy wearing a Penn State helmet. When we scored, his dad would lift him up for the crowd to see. Each time it looked like Penn State was in scoring position, the entire section would chant “WE WANT THE BABY! WE WANT THE BABY!” Though the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped for, we made memories that will last a lifetime with our Penn State family.
— Kaitlin Quigley ’09

Larry Snyder, Sierra Snyder

In the beginning of this past season, I saw a Fox Sports prediction saying that Penn State could make it all the way to the Rose Bowl. Though I can’t quite remember when I saw this, I’m almost positive it was before we upset Ohio State. Most likely, it was after our overtime win against Minnesota. At that point in time, everyone still doubted us. After seeing it, I immediately texted my parents and asked if we could go if it did happen. I’m from California, so going to “The Granddaddy of Them All” just checked something off my bucket list. And as you all know, we proved them all wrong and won a spot in the Rose Bowl. I went to the game with my dad, and it was quite the father-daughter adventure. Since the first of the year fell on a Sunday, the game was set for that Monday. Now, before anyone could have predicted Penn State going to the Rose Bowl, I had booked my round-trip flight home for break. The day I flew back to State College was the day after the game and at 5:30 in the morning out of San Francisco. It takes around six and a half hours to get from Pasadena to San Francisco. We drove all night and eventually made it. I was a zombie, but it was totally worth it. And while the outcome wasn’t what any Penn Stater wanted, it was still an amazing opportunity for our team. It was amazing to see all the Penn State fans who flew out from all over to see their team play in the best bowl game. That’s why I’m incredibly proud to be a Nittany Lion, for the perseverance this team showed this year and for the loyalty the fans show every day.
— Sierra Snyder, current Penn State sophomore

front row: Jim’s wife, Henrietta, Jim Hardy; back row: Deb Kearse, ’73 Nancy Smeltzer, Bill Smeltzer, Tom Kearse, ’73, ’75

On Rose Bowl game day, my wife, Deb, and good friends Nancy and Bill Smeltzer (Lebanon, Pa.) took our seats in a sea of Trojan red. We were quickly informed by one less-than-hospitable lady Trojan fan that we were trespassing in what was described as “the big donor section” of the Rose Bowl. For a few moments, we thought we should be worried. It was definitely not the welcome we give visitors at Beaver Stadium. The atmosphere quickly changed when a seasoned gentleman in front of us turned and personally welcomed us to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl. After introductions, Jim Hardy began to give us a Rose Bowl history lesson. Jim had been to every Rose Bowl game since he was 8 years old, only missing one, the 28th, played in 1942. Originally scheduled to be played in Pasadena, it was moved to Durham, N.C., due to fears about an attack by Japan on the west coast. He also knew the Rose Bowl first-hand, having played in two Rose Bowls as the starting USC quarterback, leading USC to two Rose Bowl wins and earning the MVP in 1945 with a 25-0 romp over Tennessee. At age 93, he has seen and experienced a lot. Proud of his pro football career, having played for the ”new” Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Lion’s championship team of 1952. A great moment for us came in the closing minutes of the game when Jim turned around and said, “I am not certain I will be happy with the final score, but other than my days as a player, this has been the best Rose Bowl Game I have ever seen.” He has seen a lot of them.
— J. Thomas Kearse

Alex Bruno (future Penn Stater), Mark Allen, Eric Bruno ’95

I took my 13-year-old son to the Rose Bowl, and we were fortunate enough to stay at the team hotel. In the lobby, my son and I had the opportunity to meet and interact with Mark Allen, running back on the team. He and my son totally hit it off, talking sports and video games. My son was distraught after the loss, and I told him on the ride back to the hotel, "I think you just need to see Mark and give him a hug.” Hanging out in the lobby after the game, Mark walked in, saw Alex, and gave him a huge hug. Both spirits were immediately lifted. Mark Allen is a class act.
— Eric Bruno

Robert R. Constable ’14, Jaimie Juschitsch, Bob Constable ’85, Mary Anne Constable, Meredith Constable, Ethan Constable ’17, Meela Smith ’18

I have said for many years that if the Penn State football team were invited to a Rose Bowl game, my family and I would make the trip, too! So, on Dec. 29, six of us boarded the plane to Los Angeles with a well-kept secret: the seventh person in our group would be receiving a special surprise during our trip of a lifetime. Thanks to the Penn State Alumni Association’s hard work, we had a wonderful time touring Hollywood, Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles in the days prior to the game. But through it all, we were awaiting a very special moment. That moment came on Dec. 31! On New Year’s Eve, while attending the Penn State New Year’s Eve party at the JW Marriott hotel, my son got down on his knee during the countdown to 2017 and proposed to his longtime girlfriend. She said “yes” and the crowd of revelers around us applauded and cheered. Even Penn State President Eric Barron was on-hand to offer his congratulations to our family! My son and future daughter-in-law posed in front of the big “We Are” sign outside of the ballroom with a sign made especially for them by one of the Marriott’s staff members. After the excitement of the engagement, the football fun began and we had a great time at the pep rally, Rose Parade, Penn State tailgate, and then, at “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl Game! It certainly was a trip to remember, and we are now looking forward to a wedding in March 2018!  
— Robert Constable ’85

Ashley Bahrt ’09, Kate Zarambo ’06, Ki-Jana Carter ’95, Kate Orlowsky ’07

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without a few celebrity sightings. Starting off our trip decorating the Toys for Tots float for the Rose Parade was a dream come true to our group, and my friend Ashley and her family were even interviewed for the local news station in Hazleton, Pa. Ringing in the New Year at Pump with Lisa Vanderpump was just the start to our fabulous Rose Bowl trip. After attending the pep rally, we didn’t even imagine that we would be tailgating next to legendary players Ki-Jana Carter and O.J. McDuffie the following day. Sitting in the crowd among the USC fans, we couldn’t have had a better gameday experience. We even spotted a few celebrities cheering for Penn State from inside the Rose Bowl Stadium—Nick and Joe Jonas. Even though we barely lost the game, we still had a blast and probably witnessed one of the most memorable Penn State games ever cheering for our hometown favorite, Saquon Barkley. Afterward, we consoled ourselves at celeb famous Dan Tana’s for some wine and their famous cheesy garlic bread. Unbeknownst, we sat next to Michael Bellisario, whose father is a distinguished Penn State alumnus, Donald Bellisario ’61, creator of hit TV shows like Magnum, P.I., JAG, and NCIS. Despite the tough loss, we couldn’t have imagined ringing in 2017 any other way. Fingers crossed that the 2017–18 football season will end with a trip to the national championship in Atlanta!
— Katie Orlowsky ’07

Jamie Kennedy ’20, James Kennedy

During finals week, I received a call from my dad: “I can’t talk long and I need an answer right now,” he said. My mind raced wondering what he could possibly need. “Andy can get tickets to the Rose Bowl for us if you want to go, but he needs to know right now.” My heart stopped. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience; it is not often that your school has the chance to play in the most prestigious bowl. I said “absolutely” faster than a Saquon Barkley touchdown run. Fast-forward to Jan. 2: Andy, my dad, and I were walking through the thick of the tailgates, which felt like seeing family members that you only see at Christmas time. Inside the tailgate, there was all-you-can-eat tailgating food, musical performers, speakers, and videos to get all of us fired up for the game. When the tailgate ended, we rushed to the stadium with a racing heart, snapping pictures the whole time to record this great event. We sat in the middle of a huge sea of white that engulfed about 40 percent of the stadium. It felt like being surrounded by family, for everyone wanted the same outcome and we all have one thing in common: Penn State. With five seconds left, USC kicked a field goal as the last sand of the hourglass fell on this clash of titans. However, we had come so far this season that we could not be disappointed. The team gave everything they had and we left proud and excited about what the next year would bring. I would not have changed the answer I gave my dad even if I knew that Penn State was going to lose, for the experience of the game will be with me for a lifetime; and the time that my dad and I spent together was priceless. For the Glory …
— Jamie Kennedy ’20

Steve Golembiewski ’14, Kelly Concannon ’14

After watching Penn State clinch the Big Ten Championship title, we decided that the only way to kickoff 2017 would be to travel to Pasadena and watch Penn State play in its fourth Rose Bowl. Beginning with the plane ride to Los Angeles and continuing through the New Year's Day pep rally, the pre-game tailgate, and the Penn State fan section, we had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful Penn State students and alumni. At times, we felt as though we were back home in Happy Valley, not 2,500 miles away in California. We could not have been more proud to represent our team and the incredible resilience demonstrated throughout the game, not to mention throughout the 2016 season. We Are Penn State!
— Kelly Concannon ’14

Mary Herold ’68 

The 2017 Rose Bowl trip was one of the best and most enjoyable experiences of my life! I had the privilege of going with my mom, Mary Herold ’68, and her friend, and we ran into Penn State people at every turn in downtown Los Angeles chanting “We Are!” Los Angeles was covered with Penn Staters, and everyone was so much fun. It felt like a home away from home. Thousands of enthusiastic Penn State fans made the pep rally a wonderfully spirited event, and watching the Rose Parade from the grandstand was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Perhaps the best part of all was being in the Rose Bowl Stadium and seeing the amazing history it boasts. I was so proud to see the tens of thousands of “white-out” fans showing their support for our highly talented and incredibly classy team. This Penn State football team exceeded the expectations that many people had, and it made for an absolutely inspiring season! I cannot fail to mention that when Penn State scored 42 points, the youthful and energetic group around us put my 73-year-old mom up in the air and pumped her up and down 42 times—and she loved every minute of it! Although we didn’t win the game, this team won the hearts of thousands of Penn State fans. Many Penn Staters on the trip said they were crossing the Rose Bowl off their bucket list, but I am definitely going back some day—and hopefully soon! We Are!
— Laura Simonetti ’97

Brian Wright ’15, Casey Lindlaw ’15, Julia Jacobs ’15

Growing up a college football fan, I spent most fall Saturdays in a stadium surrounded by my family and friends cheering on our respective teams. If I wasn’t in attendance, my Saturdays tended to revolve around the kickoff of the big games. As a child, I was even lucky enough to attend a few bowl games, traveling down the East Coast with my family, after spending many years watching them all on television. I fell in love with the sport and only dreamed of one day attending "The Granddaddy of Them All." Although my love of college football began well before I stepped foot on Penn State’s campus, it grew even deeper after spending my first fall Saturday in Beaver Stadium in 2011. Rarely missing a game all four regular seasons, I attended my first Penn State bowl game in Yankee Stadium at the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl. After winning by just one point, I wasn’t sure when I would get to see another game like it. Little did I know, two years later, the next Penn State bowl game I’d attend would fulfill a lifelong dream. Before the trip to California, I traveled 4,052 miles this season to see Penn State play eight times, both home and away. I drove to Happy Valley, Pittsburgh, Piscataway, N.J., and even to Indianapolis to witness the Big Ten Championship. Fortunately, I was able to make one last trip across the country with some of my best friends from Penn State who have been there since the beginning. I will never forget the roars at the pep rally, the blue and white worn all through Los Angeles, and the “We Are” chants that echoed throughout Pasadena on game day.
— Casey Lindlaw

Hilary McQuaide, Astrid McQuaide, James McQuaide, Esther McQuaide, Arnold “Chet” McQuaide ’65, and Timothy McQuaide

The entire McQuaide clan gathered in Los Angeles for the Penn State pep rally and Rose Bowl game. I earned my B.S. in electrical engineering at Penn State over five decades ago. We had planned to celebrate Christmas together in the Los Angeles area, where both of our sons live. However, when the Nittany Lions became Big Ten champions and earned a Rose Bowl invitation, we made last-minute changes to extend our visit to make Rose Bowl festivities a family experience. A fellow Penn State graduate graciously snapped this family photo for us. Although I'm the only Penn State alumnus (so far!), as you can see, the whole family became honorary Penn Staters on Rose Bowl weekend. It was the first time that all of us have been together for two whole weeks. Thanks, Penn State, for providing the excuse for a truly memorable family gathering.
— Arnold C. ("Chet") McQuaide, Jr. ’65

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