Each year, the Holidays have their familiar routines for families and friends, and most of us can recall at least one annual routine with a smile. The Boys of Autumn can certainly think of one: they call it The Turkey Bowl.
It all began in 1994: Two teenaged brothers and a brother-in-law rounded up a group of friends and began holding an informal football game every Thanksgiving morning, as a means of fellowship and as a way to work up a good appetite for the Thanksgiving feast that would follow.
They were all Westies: a group of classmates who had mostly known each other since childhood. Together they would gather on an open field, sometimes Brennan Field, sometimes behind Bailey Middle School, and a game of tackle football would ensue. But often, the football game would lead to trips to the hospital for one or two of the contenders, who had zigged when they ought to have zagged.
As the years went by, the Thanksgiving routine gathered a reputation and attracted additional players. By now, the core group were 30-ish and had discovered that falling down wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. Thus, tackle football was replaced by two-handed touch football, and finally flag football, complete with a time clock and official linemen.
The group was divided into the “over thirties” and the “under 30s” who played against each other while their wives and children—and dogs–watched. For now, some of the Boys of Autumn were fathers and family men.
And their children grew up. And today, some of them are participating in the Turkey Bowl, alongside their fathers, many of whom are now in their forties. This Thanksgiving marks the 26th playing of the event, which in past years has been played in freezing cold, falling snow, and torrential rain. We wish them luck—and many more years of playing The Turkey Bowl.
Our thanks to Mike Hawes for contributing this story.