Paying tribute to Harris at the airport

If you have ever flown in or out of Pittsburgh International Airport, then you have been greeted by an amazing statue of Franco Harris which replicates his pose when he caught the Immaculate Reception.

It's been a welcome home for passengers since 2005, greeting them as they head down the escalators after they get off their flight.

Today, that statue has moved to an even greater place of honor.

The statue was moved to the airport's center core, in front of the large Christmas tree, in order to accommodate all of the travelers who want to stop and pay their respects.
"At the end of the day, Franco Harris is a welcome home for everybody who comes through the airport who is from Pittsburgh," said Christina Cassotis, CEO of Allegheny County Airport Authority. "I have heard stories about when I see the statue, that is when I know I am home. We knew there would be an outpouring of sentiment by people from this community, but also by sports fans everywhere who admired him for the work that he had done after the Immaculate Reception in the community and what he stood for. It seemed fitting we would have a place where people could express their respect and sorrow in a way that would be more prominent, more public. We knew there would be so many people wanting to react that we had to move him."

Terrible Towels and flowers have been left, and thousands have signed a condolence book that will be given to the Harris family.

"It's been amazing," said Cassotis. "From the staff that has been involved, everybody just went into high gear to figure out how to offer a memorial opportunity that would be public and capture what everybody knew was coming. To see passengers, there's the picture of somebody who kneels, people bang their heart as they walk by. We had to have police and ambassadors out there to control the crowd. And the thousands of people who signed the book. And the Terrible Towels and flowers. You have to remember we are post security. It's in a secure area. These are passengers that are going into a store and buying flowers or putting a Terrible Towel, standing in line to take a picture or write in the book. I think it's remarkable."