High school football is a common sight on Thanksgiving morning in Massachusetts. But this year, multiple contests across Massachusetts were pushed back to Wednesday night to avoid the cold temperatures expected on Thanksgiving Day.
In total, about 30 games scheduled originally for Thursday have been changed to Wednesday, with game times spanning from the mid-afternoon to the late evening.
Large heaters were being tested on the field in Braintree for what will still be game day on Thanksgiving morning. Warming tents will be set up on the sidelines, and 500 pairs of hand warmers will be available for spectators in the stands.
"It's going to be a very cold day. We are looking at temperatures close to 7 degrees in terms of the wind child child factor," said Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan.
Chris DiBona of Brewster Ambulance said extended exposure could be problematic for some football fans.
"The brief exposure is probably not a problem. We're looking at folks lining up prior to the game and then exiting the game, so you're looking at a couple hours of exposure," DiBona said.
Brewster Ambulance plans to monitor the weather from their communications center and have already added extra equipment that will go out to the games.
"We're going to be providing warming stations and additional support not only to the players but also the spectators that will be at these events," DiBona said.
Braintree resident Marianne Barrett said she plans to enjoy the game with lots of layers.
"You leave early, you bundle up, you get your coffee and you see everyone you graduated with and haven't seen for years," Barrett said.
Milford hosted Maynard Wednesday afternoon. Some of the game changes came with a cut to the other festivities like pre-game and half-time shows. Braintree and Milton actually made the decision to bump the game up a day, but then switched it back after the community chimed in.
"Also thinking it through a little more, we determined we could go back to Thursday morning at 10 a.m. The players really want to play on Thanksgiving Day and I can appreciate that," said Sullivan.
One contest has even been canceled, with both athletic directors of Nipmuc Regional and Blackstone Valley announcing that their Thanksgiving Day game will not take place due to the weather and poor field conditions. Both programs are slated to play in their respective division's Super Bowl on Dec. 1. Nipmuc will face Scituate in the Division 5 Final while Blackstone Valley battles St. Mary's in the Division 6 Final.
The annual contests between Andover and North Andover, Bishop Stang and Bishop Feehan, and Grafton and Millbury were moved to 5 p.m. Wednesday, while the North Bridge-Uxbridge game was changed to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“That’s what Thanksgiving is, man," Worcester native Arthur Debres said. "It’s about football. It’s part of the game. Rain, shine, doesn’t matter. You play football."
Another Worcester native echoed similar sentiments about playing through the elements.
"Diehards will go here every time," Genevieve, a mother of a high school football player, said. "It was raining, it was snowing, we'd be out there with him."
Worcester resident Lonnie Speight said the toughness of the sport should be enough to play through the cold.
"They playing football," Speight said. "They should be rough enough to take the weather."
Others were fans of the decision, whether they were worried about those playing the games or those watching them.
"I think it's too cold," Worcester native Alicia Robinson said. "I'm from down South, so I think it's way too cold."
Josh Lopez said he was more worried about how the weather would affect those out in the cold on Thanksgiving.
"They're high school kids, and it's tradition and all that," Lopez said. "But, at the end of the day, the weather is going to affect your body. It' s dangerous at that point."
Essex Tech out of Middleton also followed the trend, with their game against Northeast Tech moved to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at home.
Westborough High School also announced this afternoon that their Thursday morning game vs. Algonquin was rescheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Below is the full list of contests that have been postponed from Thursday morning to Wednesday, with each game's kickoff time noted in parentheses.
Algonquin at Westborough (5 p.m.)
Arlington Catholic at Arlington (Peirce Field, 6 p.m.)
Bay Path at Oxford (6 p.m.)
Bishop Stang at Bishop Feehan (5 p.m.)
Blackstone-Millville/Hopedale vs. Sutton/Douglas (1 p.m.) - Will be played at Grafton High School
Blackstone Valley Tech at Nipmuc Regional - Canceled
Blue Hills at Bristol-Plymouth (5 p.m.)
Bourne at Wareham (6 p.m.)
Burncoat at Doherty (3 p.m.)
Central Catholic at Lawrence (6 p.m.)
Dennis-Yarmouth at Nauset (5 p.m.)
Dracut at Methuen (5 p.m.)
Gardner at Oakmont (6 p.m.)
Grafton at Millbury (5 p.m.)
Greater New Bedford at Diman (7 p.m.)
Fitchburg at Leominster (6 p.m.)
Holy Name at Auburn (5 p.m.)
Maynard at Milford (4 p.m.)
Melrose at Wakefield (5:30 p.m.)
Newton South at Lincoln-Sudbury (3:30 p.m.)
Northeast Regional at Essex Tech (6:30 pm)
North Andover at Andover (5 p.m.)
Old Rochester at Apponequet (5 p.m.)
Prouty at Leicester (6 p.m.)
Seekonk at Dighton Rehoboth (7 p.m.)
Shepherd Hill Regional at Tantasqua Regional (5:30 p.m.)
Shrewsbury at Wachusett (6 p.m.)
St. Mary's (Lynn) at Bishop Fenwick (6 p.m.)
St. Peter-Marian at St. John's (Shrewsbury) (2 p.m.)
Tri-County at Old Colony (6 p.m.)
Uxbridge at Northbridge (5 p.m.)
Weston at Wayland (6 p.m.)
Whittier Regional Valley Tech at Greater Lawrence Tech (6 p.m.)
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