WEST PITTSTON — It isn’t just the pros who play football on Thanksgiving Day.
The annual Turkey Bowl was held Thursday, Nov. 26 at Wyoming Area’s Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium in honor of the late Charlie Giacometti, a member of the Wyoming Area Class of 1976.
Decades ago, Giacometti, along with brothers Harry and Joe, decided to gather friends to play football on the morning of Thanksgiving. The former athletes gathered annually to relive their younger years and experience the camaraderie they felt during high school.
In 2009, Charlie Giacometti died unexpectedly at the age of 50. Since then, the annual Turkey Bowl has continued on in his name with the aid of Lou “Bikes” Ciampi, also a Wyoming Area grad and football enthusiast.
“Turkey Bowl is a long-standing tradition in the Wyoming Valley and folks get together with family and friends and play,” Ciampi said. “The Ciampi-Giacometti thing that started seven years ago is very much a family thing. It’s more a family tradition then it is a football tradition.”
Initially, the game was played among fellow graduates of Wyoming Area, and later, former Pittston Area athletes were invited to play. The game has moved around from field to field starting at the “bowl” behind Tenth Street Elementary School in Wyoming.
A few years later, the game was moved to the Wyoming Seminary soccer practice field. Currently everyone gathers at the Warriors’ field in West Pittston.
With Ciampi taking over, the event has gravitated to more of a family atmosphere. “I think it’s everything Thanksgiving should be — friends and family coming together,” Courtney DeLucca said. “The boys enjoying a holiday with friends in the morning and family for the rest of the day.”
DeLucca, of Exeter, and husband A.J. brought their children, Anthony, 9, and Briella, 4, who have participated in the last two Turkey Bowls. “Normally if moms are cooking the meal (in the morning), I think it’s nice the boys get out and have their own tradition,” Courtney DeLucca added.
Rob Belza, of Exeter, and his son Mario, 8, also have participated the last two years. “Lou (Ciampi) does a great job of getting all the kids and parents involved,” Belza said. “Lou’s wife Lisa brings coffee and snacks and it’s fun for an hour or hour and a half and it gets you in the mood for Thanksgiving and football.”
The format the last few years has been the dads playing the first half with their children, and the second half the children play against each other. This year there were approximately 40 dads and children playing.
Ethan Speece, 10, of West Pittston, attended along with his father Eric. The Speece family has long been a part of football in West Pittston. Ethan’s grandfather Roy Speece was active in the West Pittson Rams junior football organization for many years as a head coach.
Eric and Ethan’s uncle Jason were football standouts for the Warriors a few decades ago.
“It was fun today and I had a really good time being the QB and passing to everybody,” Ethan said, who played in his fifth Turkey Bowl on Thursday. “I had a first down and almost had a touchdown and I passed for a short touchdown.”
According to Ethan, he got to use all of the skills he’s learned playing football throughout the years.