WALLINGFORD -- Thanksgiving week has always been associated with football rivalries.
In Wallingford, there has never been a game that’s been more popular than a flag football game played the day before Thanksgiving, by girls.
This Powderpuff football tradition started when Wallingford went to two high schools back in 1972. The Athletic Director for the then new school - Sheehan - was looking for more sports opportunities for high school girls.
She found football.
Since 1972, what’s known as the Samaha Bowl, named after its founder Judy Samaha, is the second best attended event in Wallingford every year, behind only the Fourth of July fireworks.
"I don’t wanna say it's getting bigger and bigger, but the excitement of it gets bigger and bigger because so many now grandparents have played in it and mothers of these players have played," said Cheryl Colwick, Sheehan's 24th year Head Coach.
One mother of a Lyman Hall player actually played for rival Sheehan.
"She tells me, she’s like, you know, you’re gonna get beat," said Lauren Condon, a Lyman Hall Senior. "You know, she supports her high school and that’s OK."
One recent game in this rivalry, which Lyman Hall has now won thrree stright years, had 7,000 fans.
"Because they wanna see us take the gold," said Sheehan Senior Bittney Lavigne. "They want to see you take the trophy."
Some years ago the fire marshal capped the attendance at 4,000 spectators.
"It’s always been a big thing, whether played on a Wednesday or Tuesday," said Lyman Hall Head Coach Ed Neilander. "I think it’s going to be big no matter what day of the week we do it."
And, this game is so wildly popular, many players will tell you playing in this game ranks ahead of attending their senior prom.
Condon summed it up best.
"It’s a flag football game. Like why does it overpower everything else,m" she said. "And, it’s just like you unite with people you haven’t talked to since elementary school or middle school and it’s just you get so close to the coaches and it’s just like overall such a great experience."
Evidently, Judy Samaha picked the right spot.