Turkey day game header 2014
Turkey day game history

The “Turkey Day Game” in Missouri between the Kirkwood High School Pioneers and the Webster Groves High School Statesmen celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007. Newly found evidence shows that 2007 also celebrated the 100th known football game since 1898 between the two schools (whether or not there were games played during the 1899, 1900, and 1905 seasons still remains unknown) and the 77th game played on Thanksgiving Day between the varsity teams of the two schools. In addition to the unknown seasons of 1899, 1900, and 1905, there was no game in 1904 because Kirkwood did not have a team; there were four cancellations of the game in 1911, 1914, 1918, 1988; two games held in 1906; three games held in 1907; two games held in 1908; two games held in 1983; five years in which only the junior varsity squads played on Thanksgiving Day due to a playoff schedule conflict (see below) in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2010; fourteen games postponed or not scheduled on Thanksgiving Day since 1907–1909, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1975, 1980, and 1985. The game was suspended for four years – 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927 – after a melee occurred on the field in 1923 that involved spectators from the stands. A referee called back all three of Kirkwood’s touchdowns due to penalties, allowing Webster Groves to win the game 7–0. The win gave Webster Groves its eighth consecutive win and a 14–7–2 lead in the varsity series since 1898. The game resumed in 1928 and was played continuously on Thanksgiving Day until 1975. The game site alternates between Moss Field (Webster Groves) on even years and Lyons Field (Kirkwood) on odd years. In the event that either Kirkwood or Webster Groves advances to the Show-Me Bowl state championship game, the non-varsity members of the junior varsity and freshman squads play instead as part of the 1988 Turkey Day Agreement. The agreement has so far been utilized in 2002, 2003, and 2006.[8]
The Kirkwood and Webster Groves varsity teams have not met in the Turkey Day Game since 2008. This is because every year since 2009, at least one of the two teams has advanced to the Show-Me Bowl, thus invoking the Agreement and relegating the contest to a junior varsity match.[12] In 2010 there was an unusual situation: the Kirkwood and Webster Groves varsity teams met in the Class 5 semifinals the weekend before Thanksgiving, assuring one of them would advance to the Show-Me Bowl; Webster Groves won the game, 28–0. In addition to the pre-Thanksgiving matchup, the junior varsity teams played on Thanksgiving itself.[13]
Since 1952, a 400-pound bell from a retired locomotive, donated by the Frisco Railroad Company, has been used as the trophy for the Turkey Day Game. The winner of the game takes possession of the Frisco Bell until the next game. The Bell was first awarded to Kirkwood, despite the game ending in a tie, because Webster Groves had lost the previous year’s game. Since 1940, the loser has received the Little Brown Jug, which originally had painted the years and scores of the game on its back, but now has been replaced with the Centennial Jug, with the history of the coaches painted on it.[14]
The term Turkey Day in both Kirkwood and Webster has grown to encompass not only the football game itself, but the festivities in the week prior to Thanksgiving Day. Both schools participate in extensive activities surrounding Turkey Day during Thanksgiving week. The Friendship Dance is held every year at the high school not hosting that year’s game, as a gesture of friendship between the schools. Each school names a Friendship Court and selects a Friendship Queen and King from the court. In addition, each grade level at both schools decorate a hallway in a unique theme, and are then judged. At both schools, the activities culminate in respective pep rallies both on the last day of school of that week (Tuesday) and the Wednesday night before the game. At both Kirkwood and Webster, there is a bonfire after the Wednesday night pep rally.[15] Drawing thousands of people every year, the game itself has grown in popularity to the likes of the local news, cable broadcasts of the game, and of course to the broadcast of the game on The Big 550 KTRS Radio.

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