Turkey Day Classic Had All the Trimmings

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By Hazel Scott/ASU

Alabama State University’s traditional Turkey Day Classic (TDC) and Thanksgiving Day Parade returned to their pre-pandemic glory this year. The TDC rivalry, one of the oldest HBCU football classics in the nation,  and the parade have been a long-established holiday season kickoff.


Spectators once again lined up along the Dexter Avenue route to cheer as a dazzling array of incredible marchers, floats and marching bands passed by.

 This year, there were more than 155 entries, including representatives from 25 schools and13 bands coming from as far away as West Palm Beach Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.  City and County officials, including Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, also took part in the celebration.

The TDC Parade began in the 1940s and was coordinated by former ASU Professor John Garrick Hardy. The event was established to increase attendance at the annual Turkey Day Classic football game. 

 “The Parade fostered pride in ASU and fellowship within the community then and now,” said Kenneth Waters, Marketing and Communications Coordinator. “With everything we’ve been through in the last 20 months, this is a welcome boost for our community’s morale and the economy of the River Region.”


The TDC celebration kicked off with Black and Gold Day, a spirited initiative that encouraged people to wear the school colors and decorate their homes and/or businesses. Many Hornets fans took pictures showing their school pride and posted them on social media.

All week long, the University held several festivities in celebration of TDC, starting on Monday, November 22. Wednesday’s events included the Alumni Brunch celebrating the Classes of 1's, 6's and Silver Class, and a student-sponsored Pep Rally at Hornet Stadium. The TDC MusicFest wrapped up Wednesday’s events, with an electrifying MusicFest featuring artists Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, KEM, and Goodie Mob.

“After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Classic returned for a bustling week infused in culturally rich traditions,” said Jennifer Anderson, executive director for Institutional Advancement Initiatives and the ASU Foundation.  

 Anderson noted that for alumni the Turkey Day Classic is a consistent commitment.

“Decades after graduating from ASU, many alumni and their families return to attend the ASU/Tuskegee Rivalry Game, reuniting to celebrate their love for ASU and the longstanding rivalry between the schools,” said Anderson.

The Rivalry Game

The TDC celebration culminated on Thanksgiving Day. Festivities included a Hornets’ Pregame Block Party featuring the Sting Stage and the Hornet Walk.

The special day had alumni from across the country coming “home’ to witness the long-awaited return of the showdown between the Hornets and in-state rival, the Tuskegee Golden Tigers. The rivalry was renewed in 2021 after almost a decade.

“We were very excited to bring this historic rivalry back,” said ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. “For ASU, it is a wonderful opportunity to welcome Hornets back home to a tradition that we all love. I have many fond memories of the Turkey Day Classic from childhood to adulthood. The football rivalry is intense, but the reunion and connections are what really make the entire event so special. This year was no exception. Fans on both sides were here from all over the country bursting with school pride. The atmosphere is truly electric when Hornets and Golden Tigers come together, both on and off the field.” 

For Dr. Jason Cable, the 2021 Turkey Day Classic marked his first as ASU’s Athletic Director. The Alabama native said he has always known about the excitement that the game generates.

“The rivalry stirs the emotions of both Hornets and Golden Tigers fans, who had to wait more than a year for the rivalry’s return due to the pandemic. There’s nothing like having our campus filled with fans who are here to cheer for our student-athletes. At the end of the day, that’s what is important: supporting our schools and supporting our students.”

Cable said he’s proud that ASU won the bragging rights this year. The ASU Hornets trounced the Golden Tigers 43-9 on Thursday to cap off their season unbeaten at home.

“There’s nothing like getting that big ‘W’ for the Turkey Day Classic. The Hornet’s will be ready to sting them again next year,” Cable added.