Alas, no Turkey Bowl this year at Reifsteck Field in Brighton

Alas, no Turkey Bowl this year at Reifsteck Field in Brighton

The 32nd edition of the Brighton Turkey Bowl, Thanksgiving 2019 at Reifsteck Field, Brighton High School [Photo: David Kramer]

Alas, due to the pandemic, this year Brighton High School will not host the annual Turkey Bowls played at Reifsteck Field and adjacent practice fields. The Turkey Bowl tradition in which friends gather on Thanksgiving Day for passes, fumbles, laughs, and bragging rights has a long history in Monroe County.

See Cold and snowy Turkey Bowls at Reifsteck Field below

In Maplewood Park, the “Wood Bowl” (a variant of the Turkey Bowl) was first played in 1966 by Aquinas Institute students. According to a 2004 Democrat and Chronicle the tradition was still going strong 38 years later. The Turkey Bowl at Indian Landing School in Brighton was first played in 1968 by members of Boy Scout 37. The “Bill Seccombe Turkey Bowl” was first played at the Florence Brasser School field (Gates Chili) in 1974, and continues to this day. The Brighton High School game originated in 1986 or 1987. The Webster game started in 1995. The Turkey Bowl at Pittsford Mendon High School is a relative newcomer, begun in 2004.

Thanksgiving 1989, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Thanksgiving 1997, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle  Chris Lewis soars to pull in a lone touchdown pass over Chris Gaudioso during the Turkey Bowl in Webster yesterday. This is the third consecutive year of the friendly game played on Thanksgiving. JAMIE GERMANO staff photographer 

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (left) Thanksgiving 1988, Indian Landing School, Brighton Randv Welch tries to make a fallina-down catch in the end zone, but drops it. Victor Raguso hurries in to defend. (right) Thanksgiving 2005, Pittsford Mendon High School. Ben Corwin, left foreground, and Mike Lipari battle Mike Weingarten, who’s going up for the ball during the Turkey Bowl on Wednesday at Pittsford Mendon High School. The teenagers started the tradition last year. SHAWN DOWD/staff photographer 

The Simon School Turkey Bowl. Fauver Stadium, University of Rochester (2016) Friends and classmates got together for a great day of flag football in preparation for their Turkey Feast later in the day. (Simon School website) See  Seeing The Rochester Effect at the University of Rochester

Reifsteck Field, Thanksgiving 2020, 10:17a.m. Punter David Kramer ‘5 9″, 165 lbs. (High School: Brighton High School, Rochester, NY; College: Brown University, Providence, RI) A few scofflaw soccer players can be seen in the background. I decided to carry on the tradition by playing with myself. [Photo: a jogger who said he would play had there been a game] See Adding Yeshiva football to the Cobb’s Hill series

As seen by the equipment strewn on Reifsteck Field, the 2019 game attracted many players and even some fans, human and furry.

The 32nd edition of the Brighton Turkey Bowl, Thanksgiving 2019

(In background above) In recent years, a Thanksgiving soccer match has become a new tradition. (below) This end zone pass was deflected and fell incomplete.

This man graduated from Pittsford Mendon High School and lives in California. He returns to Rochester every Thanksgiving to visit his friend, her dog and play in the Turkey Bowl. [Photos: David Kramer]

Perhaps the most dramatic games ever were played in 2018 on a cold and snow Thanksgiving afternoon.

Cold and snowy Turkey Bowls at Reifsteck Field (Thanksgiving 2018)

The Dallas-Miami 1993 Thanksgiving Day classic. With seconds left, the Cowboys' Leon Lett fumbled a missed field goal kick allowing the Dolphins a second -- and successful -- game winning attempt.

The Dallas-Miami 1993 Thanksgiving Day classic. With seconds left, the Cowboys’ Leon Lett fumbled a missed field goal kick allowing the Dolphins a second — and successful — game winning attempt. (Youtube and USA Today)

Texas Stadium, Thanksgiving, 1993. (dallas.com)

Texas Stadium, Thanksgiving, 1993. (dallas.com)

Twenty five Thanksgivings ago in Dallas, a rare snow and sleet storm  cascaded through the open roof of then-unenclosed Texas Stadium, making play treacherous.  With 15 seconds left, Dallas led Miami 14-13.  On the icy surface, the Dolphin’s Pete Stoyanovich attempted a 41-yard field goal attempt.

The Cowboys’ Jimmie Jones blocked the kick which squirted into the snow near the Dallas goal line.

Stoyanovich makes game winning field goal. (Youtube)

Stoyanovich makes game winning field goal. (Youtube)

Dallas lineman Leon Lett attempted to recover the ball. Lett slipped as he went down, however, and knocked the ball forward. In the resulting chase for possession, the Dolphins recovered in the end zone.

Had Lett merely let the ball lie where it was, Dallas would have won. Given a second chance, Stoyanovich made the game winning field goal.

Fittingly, Lett called his play — one of the most dramatic and weird in NFL history —  “a brain freeze.”

It was 32 degrees in Dallas that day.  Today, Rochester broke the record low for Thanksgiving at 9° Fahrenheit. Persistent squalls created occasional whiteouts, depositing a couple of inches of snow.

11_26_15 Reifsteck-Field-Brighton-NY

This group’s 29th Turkey Bowl. Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, 2015. Reifsteck Field Brighton, NY. [Photo: David Kramer] From Barons prevail in first televised football game at Reifsteck Field

No matter for the dozens of football and soccer players gathered in Brighton for the annual Turkey Bowl traditionally held on Thanksgiving morning.

Unlike Jerry Jones’ monstrous AT&T Stadium, Reifsteck Field has no roof, retractable or otherwise.

Three years ago — in better weather — I met Brighton High School alums and others gathered for their 29th pre pig out pigskin game. Not so hardy this year, the group was AWOL, hopefully back next year for a 32nd edition.

On the practice field adjacent to Reifsteck, meteorologically undeterred, another group of about 25 people convened for their approximately tenth Bowl. The players and fans are mainly from the Brighton school and local community, including Kevin McGowan, Brighton Central School District Superintendent, and sons.

Brighton football practice field, Thanksgiving, 2018. [Photo: David Kramer]

Brighton football practice field, Thanksgiving, 2018. [Photo: David Kramer]

Brighton football practice field, Thanksgiving, 2018. [Photo: David Kramer]

Brighton football practice field, Thanksgiving, 2018.

Brighton Central School District Superintendent.

Quarterback Kevin McGowan, Brighton Central School District Superintendent. (top left) Given time by offensive line; (top center) completes short pass under pressure; (top right) inside handoff; (bottom right) completion over the middle; (bottom center) long bomb touchdown; (bottom right) incomplete short of the goal line.

On Reifsteck’s artificial turf field, a larger group has played for many years now. As explained by organizer Len Aronson, the friends previously played at Buckland Park but prefer the softer Reifsteck surface vs. the hardened ground at Buckland.  The footballers are from all over Monroe Country but find Brighton centrally located. They don’t call their game the Turkey Bowl per se, but the concept — a pre pig out pigskin game — is the same.

The first to arrive. Ken (left) and Len with cones, balls, etc.

The first to arrive. Ken (left) and Len with cones, balls, etc. [Photo: David Kramer, 11/22/18]

Ball in air on after-touchdown throw. Reifsteck Field, 11/22/18. [Photo: David Kramer]

Ball in air on after-touchdown throw, Reifsteck Field.

Reif 1Reif 3

A couple of dozen soccer players — mostly from the Brighton soccer community — held their own Turkey Bowl.

Soccer

As seen in Barons prevail in first televised football game at Reifsteck Field and Working on the Chain Gang at Reifsteck Field, Rochester weather is always an issue at Reifsteck.

As seen in Adding Yeshiva football to the Cobb’s Hill series, the boys at the Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York play football in the snow.  Unlike their elder Turkey Bowlers, the students play tackle football.

From Adding Yeshiva football to the Cobb's Hill series

From Adding Yeshiva football to the Cobb’s Hill series. Quarterback David “Sid Luckman” Kramer

In the 1980s, we played a precursor to the Turkey Bowl.  At the Holidays, we gathered for street football.

Sometime in the 80s at our annual Holiday street football game. (l-r) Andre Marquis, Steve Shapiro, Phil Ghyzel, David Kramer. [Photo: Dean Tucker]

Sometime in the 80s at our annual Holiday street football game. (l-r) Andre Marquis, Steve Shapiro, Phil Ghyzel, David Kramer. [Photo: Dean Tucker]

As seen in “An early-spring renewal of the spirit” over 10,000 fungos later, Reifsteck is also used for hitting and fielding fungoes.

SEE ALSO

Barons prevail in first televised football game at Reifsteck Field

Working on the Chain Gang at Reifsteck Field

Adding Yeshiva football to the Cobb’s Hill series

Site says Brighton is best place to live in New York

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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