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Penn Staters know that State College becomes the commonwealth’s third-largest city on Penn State football game days. With more than 100,000 fans packed into the stadium, Homecoming is always a very special weekend and few need incentive to make the trip back to town.

But in case you’ve forgotten, need any motivation or are wondering what will make this year stand out from other Homecoming weekends, keep reading!

Catch Up With Old Friends & Make New Ones

This is probably the single biggest reason alums keep trekking back to Happy Valley each fall. All weekend they’ll huddle in their favorite spots still thriving years after they’ve departed town for other full time locales.

They’ll be cramped in the incomparable Skellar, sardined into The Phyrst listening to the Phyrst Family Band and squeezed into booths at Ye Olde College Diner on College Ave., waiting for their grilled stickies to be served.

And they’ll come in droves.

One hotel attendant responded rather incredulously when asked in the first week of September if said hotel had any vacancies left for Homecoming weekend.

“Um, no,” the girl said before adding: “Of course not! You would’ve had to reserve that in January!”

We don’t think she was joking. So there’s a good chance you’ll know somebody in town. And if you’re the only brother you know from your era coming back, why not swing by the chapter house and meet some of the new ones?

There’s a Football Game

The pageantry of college football is unrivaled – as James Franklin would say – and there’s nothing like the experience of a college game day in Happy Valley when coupled with the fact that it’ll be Homecoming weekend.

Penn State will look to get back into the Homecoming win column after falling short to Northwestern last season. And they’ll have a solid opponent to try and do so against. The Indiana Hoosiers are the opponent this year and the Hoosiers have proven themselves pesky foes in the last two seasons. Indiana beat Penn State in 2013 and were alive well into the fourth quarter in a 13-7 Penn State win last season. It could be a pretty good game.

A Lot Has Changed

If you’re in the minority of folks who haven’t made a trip back in a few years, you’ll be in store for a few surprises when you walk down College and Beaver Avenues.

For one, the downtown State College skyline is undergoing serious changes. There are cranes all over the place as new residential and commercial buildings are being erected between College and Beaver Avenues.

There are also a few new spots to dine as well including the JoePa inspired 409 Pizza and Wings, Tommy’s Asian Grill, Underground Burger and Crepe and Liberty Craft House. For all the yinzers, there’s even a Primanti Bros. in town now!

October Just Feels Right

Homecoming snuck up on us early last year with a late September weekend being host to all the pageantry and festivities. But for some reason, it just didn’t feel right. You’d be amazed at the difference two weeks will make in terms of the weather and the scenery in Happy Valley.

When Penn State played Northwestern last season, most of the trees around town and Beaver Stadium still held their summer leaves. A return to October will ensure the fall hues are more developed and the air is a bit cooler, giving this Homecoming weekend a more natural feel.