Mount Holly, New Jersey, feels a lot more like Pittsburgh today. The town where Franco Harris was born celebrated his life and legacy Tuesday, dedicating a road and a day after him.
According to ABC 6 in New Jersey, Ridgway Street in Mount Holly is now called Franco Harris Way. The unveiling was done by Harris’ son, Dok.
“It’s quite nice, it’s a great honor. I think he’ll look down and really appreciate this,” Dok told ABC 6.
Harris attended Rancocas High School in Mount Holly before committing to Penn State, a fullback and running back who had a successful college career even if he was at times overshadowed by Lydell Mitchell. Harris became the Steelers’ first-round pick in 1972 and made an immediate impact, winning Rookie of the Year. His most famous play came on December 23rd, the Immaculate Reception, catching the ricochet off Jack Tatum and racing into the end zone to upset the Oakland Raiders.
December 23rd in Mount Holly will now be remembered as “Franco Harris” day.
Mitchell, his college teammate, attended the ceremony to support his late friend’s family.
“We all learned so much from Franco, and we miss him dearly,” Mitchell said
Harris died on December 20th of last year, a sudden and tragic death days before he was to be celebrated in Pittsburgh. His #32 was set to be retired and he was planning on attending the Steelers/Raiders Christmas Eve game to celebrate the Immaculate Reception’s 50th anniversary. Despite his death, the ceremony went on, and the Steelers beat the Raiders in the final seconds, just as they did 50 years ago.
“He was always so proud of Mount Holly- he told everybody,” Harris’ wife Dana told the station. “So this is a lovely tribute.”
Dana accepted Harris’ jersey retirement on his behalf, an emotional halftime moment between her, their son, Steelers President Art Rooney II, and all of Steelers Nation.
While Harris was a tremendous football player, his personal character is what those who knew him well remember. It’s why his life, not just his career, has been celebrated by so many, and it’s a touching tribute from his hometown to make sure his name lives on forever.