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Turkey Bowl History


In the late 1970's, twenty Aldan, Pennsylvania elementary school friends played weekly pick-up football games at the Aldan Memorial sports field on Woodlawn Ave. The games were played in all types of weather, from cold snowy days in February to blistering hot days in August the football would be passed, handed-off, and fumbled. As the years went on the games were less frequent, however, one game that was never missed was on Thanksgiving Day. Rain, snow, or shine the boys of Aldan would show up for the annual pick-up Turkey Bowl Game.

By 1984, this group of friends decided an "Official" Aldan Turkey Bowl game was needed. Over the previous years the teams started to divide into Italian and Irish ranks and by 1984 they were readily defined. You were either Italian or Irish and proud of it! So started the "Official" Italian & Irish Thanksgiving Day Football Game, Aldan, Pennsylvania.

Irish Team Photo 1986

The first official game brought with it a Turkey Bowl trophy and MVP plaque. I believe they were made in Anthony Paoletti's basement out of his collection of old trophies. Also, the first Italian and Irish football jerseys were bought at Austin's Sporting goods store, the Irish in green and Italians in red of course!

The Turkey Bowl kept running strong through the mid 1980's and there was a continuous dialog of competitive rhetoric between the Italian's and Irish during the months leading up to the game. Phony phone calls, soaping of the other team's cars (Irish #1 or Italians rule), and a host of other antics filled the year. Turkey Bowl fever was alive and well in Aldan, PA.

By 1988, all the Italian & Irish players had graduated from high school and were thrusted into the "real world" of work or college. This brought the first missed Turkey Bowl game in 11 years; it was a disappointing day in Aldan history. 1989, 1990, and 1991 also rolled by without an official Italian & Irish Turkey Bowl game.

As 1992 was approaching the boys of Aldan decided a Turkey Bowl reunion was need and the game was scheduled. Thursday 26 November 1992, Thanksgiving Day, the boys of Aldan were back to play ball. This year was filled with a new level of competitive dialog and new team jerseys were ordered. We were all too fat, except for Bob Park, to fit in the jerseys bought back in 1984. It was a clear sunny day and the Turkey Bowl tradition was back strong.

The games have continued since 1992 and the tradition gets stronger every year. Since the reunion, we have gotten sponsors for new trophy's and Turkey Bowl T-shirts. The yearly tradition starts on the night before Thanksgiving Day. All the Aldan boys meet at Tony's Bar in Collingdale to discuss how bad they are going to beat the other team, O yah, the phony phone calls and car soaping still goes on (we won't mention any names). The game starts at 9:00 am and we play until the first team scores eight touchdowns. We always have a big crowd, 20 to 30 people (big for Aldan), and then tap the keg after the last touchdown is scored. The game & beers go on rain, snow, or shine!

It's been many great years of sport and fun for the boys of Aldan, and the tradition will remain strong.