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Juice Bowl returns to Shawnee Park, reviving generations-long tradition

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 4:20 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2021 at 5:29 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Players hit the field and families gathered to cheer from the sidelines.

After being canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, the Juice Bowl returned to Shawnee Park.

And with it, the re-establishment of one of the city’s most enduring Thanksgiving traditions.

“It means a lot,” Juice Bowl organizer Robert Martin said. “It means a lot for kids to come down here, have fun and smile and not have to worry about anything. We’re giving them the opportunity to play the game that they love and see older guys play the game they love and who have actually been in their position as well. So it’s just positivity.”

At the 2021 Juice Bowl, the fun and the smiles won out during a morning of cold and rain.

It was the sixth Juice Bowl for Andrea Davis and her family. She has had two sons playing over the years. And in her house, she said the Bowl always gets the Thanksgiving party started.

“You’re waking up early in the morning,” Davis said. “You already have the food cooking in the oven, getting ready. Coming out and getting amped up and get some adrenaline rush through football and watching the babies play. And they’re going to enjoy your family.”

Winning the game is just a bonus. The real prize in the Juice Bowl is the community it draws together and the legacy it creates.

“This is history right now, history in the making is what it is,” Juice Bowl organizer Waddell Elliott said.

“I’m trying to make an impression on them by giving back and keeping this thing going, that’s what I do,” he said. “I think it’s never going to end. We’re not going to let it end.”

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