“Ask not for whom the bell tolls,” goes the old saying. “It tolls for thee.”
Penn State University students are keenly feeling this sentiment as they grieve the sudden loss of a local Taco Bell along College Avenue — the scene of many salty snack binges and late-night taco runs.
Their sorrow is so deep that one student organized a candlelight vigil to mourn the shuttered restaurant, held on Sunday, March 1. Prajesh Patel created the event on Facebook as a little joke, according to Food and Wine, but went ahead with the gathering when more than 500 people said they were interested in going.
Join us as we spice things up outside of our beloved downtown food establishment,” Patel wrote in the event description. “Being one of the best spots to spend a late night out, Taco Bell can never be replaced … We will be sharing kind words and lighting candles. Everyone is encouraged to let the world know how they feel!”
Penn State student publication Onward State captured the moment for Instagram: Friends of the Bell held candles or used the flashlight on their phones, tiny points of light in the nacho-less darkness. Patel, dressed as a giant taco, addressed the crowd.
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“I am going to miss the taste of that crunchy taco and chicken chalupa,” Patel said during his evening’s remarks. “But what I’m going to miss even more are those late-night conversations I had with each and every one of you.”
According to Onward State’s coverage of the vigil, a campus ambulance parked nearby blasted Sarah MacLachlan’s “Angel” as fans mourned the untimely loss of their beloved Taco Bell location. The event became a community gathering, in fact, with the Legion of Blue, the student section of Penn State’s basketball games, on hand to give out T-shirts and sell game tickets. There was singing as well.
(Give me a second here — my heart is aching as if I’d used too much Fire Sauce on my Cheesy Gordita Crunch.)
The students have also started a Change.org petition to save the location, which now has more than 600 signatures.
There is some good news: Onward State notes that two other Taco Bells remain in State College, Penn. Another location is in the works, as well. And until that store opens, College Avenue still has a Five Guys, a Noodles and Company and plenty of pizza. Other Mexican fast-food restaurants, such as Chipotle, Qdoba, and Moe’s Southwest Grill, exist in the area as well.
Nevertheless, it’s a sad moment for the town’s hungry students and night owls. May the beloved Taco Bell “live más” in their memories.