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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Turkey Day Football

Turkey Day Football

GRHC - November 23rd, 2011

By 1900, high school football was firmly entrenched as a Grand Rapids Thanksgiving tradition.



The Grand Rapids Herald noted in 1900, a few days before Thanksgiving, “The football game with all its spectacle has become as much a part of the modern Thanksgiving as the turkey dinner. The day’s celebration is now as incomplete without the procession of noisy football enthusiasts as without the sumptuous dinner. Grand Rapids will this year want for neither. Prosperity has furnished the turkey; Grand Rapids High School will furnish the football.”

Football fans that year were looking for a victory over their main rival, Detroit Central High School. All that was needed to make the day a success was for Grand Rapids people to turn out in large numbers at Recreation Park, wearing chrysanthemums and bearing horns.

A large crowd witnessed the game. A light fall of snow that morning had left the grounds in bad shape. While the players slipped and slid through the mud, the spectators were slowing sinking into cold storage. These conditions did not lessen the spirit of the players nor cool the ardor of the fans, who continually cheered and urged the players on to victory.

Players did not wear helmets in those days as long hair was claimed to be enough protection for the skull. Shin guards and rubber nose guards were the only protection. Fortunately, all survived without injury. The locals went home with special reason to celebrate Thanksgiving, their big win over rival Detroit, score 23 to 5.

Full Details

TitleTurkey Day Football
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, radio, Podcast, Thanksgiving, football, turkey, sports, high school
Pubdate StringNovember 23rd, 2011

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