“Turkey Bowl” tradition stays alive on the gridiron in York County

PENN TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. --- On a field behind Pine Hills Elementary, roughly 80 people gathered to battle on the gridiron.

A battle, so to speak, for the "Turkey Bowl."

“We talk about the importance of tradition and the importance of family and this combines two of them at the same time,” said John Zinn, organizer of the Turkey Bowl.

It's a Zinn family tradition that dates back to 1969.

Four teams gathered Thursday for an 8:45 a.m. kickoff in frigid temperatures.

Zinn says the event started as a neighborhood game of football and blossomed into an annual game.

“To me, it’s pretty touching that people sacrifice their hours in the morning because Thanksgiving is a busy day for everybody, they want to sleep in but no, they’re out here at 21 degree temperature enjoying the camaraderie," said Zinn.

Some competitors are still learning the ropes at a young age while others are returning for their twentieth, thirtieth and fortieth year in a row.

“Everybody goes their separate ways as they get older but this brings everybody back,” said Zinn.

On the fiftieth annual Turkey Bowl, it's the end of an era.

John Zinn said he's stepping down as organizer of the game, passing duties over to his daughter, Erica O'Brien.

They're hoping to try and keep the Turkey Bowl around for another fifty years.

“I think tradition, you know, is all about keeping the spirit alive of those who are no longer with us and just having that love for each other and showing it year, after year, after year,” said O'Brien.

However, don't expect Zinn to hang up the cleats, just yet.

“I’m not giving up, I’ll be out here as long as I’m alive,” said Zinn.

Bragging rights are on the line each other.

As long as there is Thanksgiving, they believe there will always be a Turkey Bowl.