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Brookfield neighborhood Turkey Bowl makes a community feel like family

What began as a small gathering organized by Carver Smith has turned into something larger than he ever imagined.
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Posted at 5:20 PM, Nov 24, 2022

BROOKFIELD — Thanksgiving is a holiday full of traditions. For many Wisconsinites, it includes watching football with family. But for dozens in Brookfield, it’s taking the field with neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

“Welcome to the 13th annual Camelot Park Turkey Bowl!” said Carver Smith.

What began as a small gathering organized by Smith has turned into something larger than he ever imagined.

“It started 14 years ago, now when we wanted to teach my two daughters and our friends who had two girls some football when you added another family, and then the next year someone said, ‘I want to play,’” Smith said.

This Thanksgiving morning, 70 players formed ten teams on the gridiron for several games of two-hand touch at a neighborhood park.

“The one rule is to have fun,” Smith said. “This is all about fun. There’s no winner in the end.”

People didn’t just come to play. Dozens of spectators came to watch the action from the sidelines.

“My husband and my kids literally live for this day,” Ellen Busch said. “We just decided that we looked over here and saw this fellowship and this camaraderie and these drinks, we decided we would watch from afar.”

Connor Kolb is now a student at UW-Madison, but he’s been playing in the Turkey Bowl since he was a kid.

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“When it started it wasn’t this big but every year it just seems to grow and honestly it’s just been so fun,” he said.

Sarah McElherne made her second start in the big event. She scored a touchdown to top it off.

“I love just being able to like meet new people and it’s just like fun being able to play football, a sport I never played, and like scoring touchdowns and just being happy with your team,” she said.

For some, it’s reliving the glory days with wild Hail Marys mixed in with a few wipeouts. For others, it’s all about reconnecting with those they haven’t seen in months.

“Especially now that a lot of us have graduated school and have like gone our own ways,” Liz Busch said. “We always seem to come back and gather for this game.

A simple game gives a community a reason to gather, but some say it feels more like a large family.

“I keep getting people for days telling me how fun this is and maybe they even admit it’s the best part of their Thanksgiving,” Smith said.

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