LATROBE (KDKA) — The world of golf will turn its attention to Saint Vincent College Tuesday morning to celebrate the life of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.
Because the event is open to public, the campus could see up to 10,000 people from the elite of golf to Arnie’s Latrobe neighbors.
“It’ll be a lot of activity here during the night, getting ready for the service tomorrow at 11 [a.m.],” said Saint Vincent College’s Archabbot Douglas Nowicki, who will preside over the service. “This will be a big event, and I think it’s reflective of the deep affection that everyone has for Arnie Palmer.”
Beneath the arching vaulted ceiling of the basilica at Saint Vincent, quiet sentinels sit in the corners ready to observe the greatness of Arnold Palmer.
“It will be a memorial, and not a funeral, and it will give people the opportunity to celebrate the incredible achievements that Arnold Palmer had on the golf course. But, honestly, more importantly, the number of people that he touched off the golf course,” said Mike Scanlan, the organizer of the memorial.
Within the pews will be a who’s who of Palmer’s world and of golf, including Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Ricky Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Nancy Lopez, and many members of the just victorious Ryder Cup team.
“Those people have literally dropped everything that they had going and are heading here today and tomorrow,” said Scanlan.
Vince Gill will sing for his friend, and the golden bear Jack Nicklaus will share a story or two.
Scanlan says others expected to attend, include, “Annika Sorenstam, the winningest female golfer in history, and a couple of his friends, Jim Nantz, who was a dear friend of Mr. Palmer from CBS Sports, and Russ Meyer, the former chairman of Cessna Aircraft.”
While the Golf Channel will carry it all live, the Palmer family wants to make sure you know you are invited.
“We do want to be very clear that there will not be general public seating in the basilica due to size restrictions,” Scanlan said.
But screens are ready in the Carey Center Auditorium, the student center, and the gymnasium, and will be on Chuck Noll Field.
“We’re going to bring in two, I call them jumbotrons. Thirty-foot massive screens with speakers that we’ll be able to roll in between a couple of the practice fields,” Scanlan said.
The fields used for parking for Steelers training camp will be used for the memorial service. The outside crowd will also be in perfect position to see Arnie’s plane do a flyby over the basilica.
“It will be a great crowd. I think a day that none of us will ever forget,” Scanlan said.
Organizers are asking the public to leave your backpacks, coolers and autograph books at home. There will be no tailgating and no alcohol.
The gates will open at 8 a.m., and it’s recommended you come early and bring your patience.
Scanlan tells the “KDKA Morning News” they have planned for up to 10,000 people they aren’t sure how many people will show up.
“I wish I knew, if I knew [how many people were going to show up] the last week would’ve been a lot less stressful…It’s tough to judge it just yet,” Scanlan said.
He adds they have plenty of space and that they’re working with PennDOT and State Police to help people get on campus as efficiently as possible.
If you can’t attend the service, it will be streamed on KDKA.com.