- Penn State students held a candlelight vigil at their local Taco Bell after it suddenly closed down on Sunday.
- Around 100 students gathered at the Taco Bell to leave flowers, sing "Amazing Grace," and remember all the good times they had at the fast-food chain.
- One student gave a speech about how Taco Bell had been there for him during "all the hard times," like when his girlfriend broke up with him at 3 a.m. one day.
- Organizer Prajesh Patel told Insider that the vigil "was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."
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With the lyrics of "Amazing Grace" on their lips, and flickering candles warming their fingertips, Penn State students said goodbye to something they dearly loved: Taco Bell.
Around 100 Penn State students gathered for a candlelight vigil on Sunday to mourn the loss of their local Taco Bell in Downtown State College in Pennsylvania.
They left flowers and Taco Bell sauce packets at the steps of their beloved late-night spot, which abruptly closed last week with little explanation
"In the arms of the angel, fly away from here," the students crooned, singing along to Sarah McLachlan's famous tune as it played from a nearby campus ambulance that had stopped by the vigil to pay its respects.
Prajesh Patel — who organized the event — stood up to give a speech, dressed in a taco costume.
"Tonight is a reminder that all good things must come to an end," he began. "For many of us, this establishment was a home away from home — and added spice to our life."
"This was the place to be after a late night out," he continued. "I'm going to miss the taste of that crunchy taco and chicken chalupa. But what I'm going to miss even more are the late-night conversations that I had with each and every one of you."
"We were all shooketh after hearing about the closing of this beautiful, beautiful state college establishment," he added. "I know we were all very upset after we saw the 'For Sale' sign."
Patel told Insider that he first created the Taco Bell Vigil event on Facebook as a joke for his friends
But the event quickly caught the attention of hundreds of Penn State students, and many of them actually showed up.
"I was honestly very surprised about how this blew up," Patel said.
The 21-year-old believes that Taco Bell is so important to his peers because it was 'the one stop that everyone made before people went to bed'
"People would always run into each other there and it would turn into amazing late-night conversation," he added. "It was so special because, no matter what day or time you went, you'd always run into someone you knew and I know so many students who are going to miss that."
Hannah, a student who attended the vigil, said the Taco Bell had been part of Penn State's culture for a decade
"The inspiration behind the vigil was to remember a place that many Penn State students had fond memories of and memorable experiences," she told Insider. "The Taco Bell was somewhere everyone went on campus, it was something everyone could connect with."
One student who stood up to give a speech said Taco Bell had been there for him during "all the hard times," such as when his girlfriend broke up with him at 3 a.m. one day.
"I want you guys to remember that Taco Bell is not gone, it is not forgotten," he added. "It lives here, in our hearts."
At one point during the vigil, students put their arms around one another and began singing the Penn State Alma Mater.
Patel said it was his favorite moment of the entire night.
"That just showed how close all the students are at Penn State, no matter what the cause is," he said. "Everyone had their arms around each other and some even shed a tear as we sang together. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."
The vigil has since gone viral, making national headlines and popping up all over Twitter
It even caught the attention of Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Finneas O'Connell, Billie Eilish's brother.
Hannah said she believes the vigil has become an internet sensation because it's "very representative of the college experience."
"It's about celebrating the unique parts and loves of college students, and banning together with a bunch of people you don't know," she added.
Fellow student Allie Bausinger said she thinks the vigil went viral because 'it's just so weird'
"You had 100-plus people standing outside a Taco Bell on a Sunday night," she told Insider. "Legit, where else can you find something wild like that besides Penn State? We're such a weird, eclectic little community."
"This is why I love Penn State," she added. "We do wild stuff like this all the time and it makes me happy that I go to a school where such wild stuff can happen."
A spokesperson for Taco Bell told Insider that the California-based chain joins "the Penn State community in mourning the loss of this local Taco Bell."
"While gone, it's certainly not forgotten and we look to the support of other local Taco Bell restaurants in the community," they added. "We're happy to share that all team members from the former restaurant have been offered roles at nearby locations and a new State College, Pennsylvania, location is set to open this spring."
Until then, Penn State students will just have to make do with McDonald's. But the night they mourned Taco Bell will surely be one they'll never forget.
"When am I ever going to be somewhere that's having a vigil for their local Taco Bell? Probably never," Hannah said. "This really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can only have in college."
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