STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Several hundred people are lined up to pay their final respects to legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno, joining thousands more who attended the first day of a public viewing.

Mourners began entering a campus spiritual centre around 7:40 a.m. ET Wednesday, with more joining the long line the stretched down the block and around police barricades.

The earliest arrivers waited three hours or more for the opportunity to pass by the Hall of Famer’s casket. Inside the nearby library that bears Paterno’s name students stuck notes to a cardboard cutout of the coach’s likeness.

The public viewing ends at noon before a private funeral in the afternoon.

The Hall of Fame coach died Sunday, two months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A campus memorial service is scheduled for Thursday.