HARRISBURG, Pa. - The organizers of one of the nation's premier high school football all-star showcases have voted to cease operations, but the game and charitable events leading up to it will continue in this, its 60th year.
Big 33 is known as the grandfather of high school football all-star games, but the Big 33 Scholarship Foundation, which operated the game, cited declining donations and unsustainable debt in choosing to shut down.
"For individuals charged with responsibility as care takers...doing the right thing at times can be the hardest thing to do...and the decision to close the doors has been one of them," foundation President Jeanne DeDay said in a statement.
The decision comes a month after the foundation's executive director Dave Trimbur died. Officials with the foundation admit his passing played a role in their decision to shut down, but the game and events leading up to it will continue, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association.
"Once the scholarship foundation decided, with the tragic loss of Dave Trimbur, to move on and separate, it was just natural for the game to come back to us," Garry Cathell, executive managerial director of the PSFCA, said.
The PSFCA says it maintains ownership over the Big 33 logos and trademarks, and has what it needs to keep the game going into its 60th year.
The local high school football community says it is relieved that Big 33 will survive in some form.
"The game itself is something that has been great for this community and great for this state, but it's really those events surrounding the game, the buddy program, they say it's more than just a game and it really really is," Central Dauphin High School head football coach Glen McNamee said.
"We've been working very very hard with the transition and feel real positive about where we're at," Cathell said. "We don't want anybody out there to think that there's not going to be a Big 33 game."
The game is still tentatively set for Memorial Day weekend at Hersheypark Stadium, but there is discussion that the game could be moved to either June 10 or June 17, and possibly to a different venue in Dauphin County.