NFA-NL Thanksgiving football game moved to 1 p.m. Wednesday for 'safety' reasons

Norwich — The Norwich Free Academy-New London High School annual Thanksgiving football game — the oldest high school rivalry in the country — will be moved to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27 at NFA at the “strong recommendation” of Norwich and New London police, who cited an unspecified “recent conflict” between people from the two cities.

“The Norwich Police Department feels that it is in the best interest of all involved parties to move the date and time of the game,” a press release issued by Norwich police Lt. John Perry said, “however the ultimate decision was made, under advisement, by Norwich Free Academy.”

The recommendation was made to NFA officials during a meeting last week with Norwich and New London police and NFA officials. No specifics were revealed in the announcement to change the game time. The press release said the meeting was held “in regards to citizen and student safety during the proposed Thanksgiving Day football game. Both New London and Norwich Police recommended to Norwich Free Academy officials to change the date of the game due to recent conflict between citizens from both cities.”

NFA spokesman Michael O’Farrell said the school also is considering “appropriate measures for the safety of our players and our fans.”

The game originally was scheduled for Wednesday evening, a decision made after positive response to last year’s move from Thanksgiving Day to Wednesday night due to weather, O’Farrell said.

NFA does not have school Wednesday, making the shift to afternoon easier without the concern about bus and school departure traffic, Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley said.

Daley said he could not discuss specifics of the meeting and recommendation, but said providing security will be easier during the day. The areas behind the NFA stadium and surrounding streets are not well lit at night. There will be "a stronger police presence at and around the area," Daley said.

New London Police Captain Brian Wright said officers from New London stand ready to assist with manpower in a support role, if requested.

c.bessette@theday.com

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