Thanksgiving football back on in Lynnfield

LYNNFIELD –The brouhaha over Thanksgiving Day football in Lynnfield is apparently over.

In an unexpected turn of events, Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay did a complete reversal, announcing Wednesday morning via email that “the 2018 Thanksgiving Day game will be played on Thanksgiving morning.”

The announcement came after a tumultuous couple of days in which North Reading and Lynnfield parents learned the game had been moved to Thanksgiving eve and ignited a storm of dissent.

The decision to move the game from Thanksgiving Day to Wednesday night had been made on the basis of a survey sent out last November to parents, staff and faculty members and students asking their opinions on whether or not they were in favor of moving the game.

Tremblay said an “overwhelming” majority of respondents indicated they were in favor of playing the game Wednesday night, although only 33 percent supported the move compared to 28 percent who preferred keeping the 59-year tradition of playing Thanksgiving morning.

Nonetheless, as word spread like wildfire throughout both communities, many residents took to social media to express their outrage and demand change.

Mel Webster, chairman of the North Reading School Committee was one of them.  

“I immediately contacted Superintendent (Jon) Bernard, who told me how it went down and told me he, too preferred to keep the game on Thanksgiving,” Webster said. “I figured the best way to get momentum going toward changing the date back to Thanksgiving morning was to employ social media, and from there things just took off. My guess is that the superintendent got a lot of emails from both NR and Lynnfield, which prompted her to redo the survey. It clearly shows the power of activism, numbers and social media if done right and respectfully. While there are a lot of bad things associated with social, it can also be effective in helping make change and we showed that with this effort.”

In response to the commotion over the issue, Tremblay re-sent the survey Tuesday and also posted the survey on the district’s website to encourage more people to vote.

By Wednesday morning, Tremblay has seen enough.

“It is obvious that people overwhelmingly wanted the game to be played Thanksgiving Day and there is no need to prolong the process,” she said.  “Nearly 75 percent of the more than 500 people who took the survey between yesterday and 11 today indicated they do not want the game moved, so that’s good enough for me.  Maybe we just had the wrong people responding the first time we sent the survey out, but I think that people expressed their desire to keep the tradition and that’s what was most important, to listen and act in the majority’s best interests. This was entirely a community decision, not mine, and I am more than happy with playing the game as we always have.”

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