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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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EVERY YEAR IN MASSILLON, OHIO, BEGINNING WITH THE FIRST FRIDAY
OF THE SCHOOL YEAR, AND CONTINUING FOR TEN WEEKS, THE FOOTBALL GAMES
OF THE CITY'S ONLY HIGH SCHOOL DOMINATE THE SOCIAL, ENTERTAINMENT
AND CONVERSATIONAL ASPECTS OF THE CITIZENS. THE SEASON TRADITION-
ALLY CLOSES WITH AN INTER-CITY RIVALRY WITH CANTON'S (MASSILLON'S
NEIGHBORING CITY--LESS THAN TEN MILES AWAY) LARGEST SCHOOL--MCKINLEY,
AND APPROPRIATELY, "BEAT MCKINLEY WEEK."
THE MASSILLON TIGER--MCKINLEY BULLDOG FESTIVITIES ARE NOT PAR-
TICIPATED IN JUST BY STUDENTS. PEOPLE OF ALL AGES GET EXCITED ABOUT
THE GAME. SOME OF THE MOST ARDENT SUPPORTERS ARE OLD-TIMERS WHO
LOOK FORWARD TO IT EVERY YEAR, AND MOST EVERY CHILD HAS SEEN ONE
TIGER GAME, AND PROBABLY SPORTS A TIGER JACKET, BY THE TIME HE ENTERS
FIRST GRADE.
EACH OF THE TEAM'S THREE BOOSTER CLUBS, THE TIGER BOOSTERS, THE
SIDELINERS (EACH OF WHOSE MEMBERS SPONSOR A FOOTBALL PLAYER) AND THE
BENCHWARMERS, HOLD A "BEAT MCKINLEY RALLY" SOMETIME DURING THE WEEK,
AND THE STUDENT BODY ITSELF ALSO HOLDS A FEW RALLIES DURING THE
COURSE OF THE WEEK.
ON FRIDAY NIGHT, THE BIGGEST PRE-GAME EVENT IS HELD. A PARADE
MARCHES THROUGH THE DOWNTOWN AREA. INCLUDED IS THE MASSILLON TIGER
SWING BAND, MAJORETTES, COACHES, PLAYERS, AND FLOATS (ALL BEARING
THE THEME"BEAT MCKINLEY.") "OBIE," THE MASCOT IN A TIGER SKIN
(AND SINCE 1970, A LIVE TIGER IN A CAGE ALSO) ARE THERE, AS WELL AS
THE TRADITIONAL CALLIOPE; PLAYED ONLY DURING BEAT MCKINLEY WEEK, IT
ALSO DRIVES AROUND THE CITY STREETS PLAYING FOR A FEW HOURS
EACH NIGHT. THE PARADE MARCHES TO THE STADIUM COMPLEX, WHERE A HUGE
BONFIRE IS HELD. (STARTING IN 1973, FIRE REGULATIONS REDUCED THE
SIZE OF THE FIRE. AT THE SAME TIME THE SITE WAS CHANGED TO A PLACE
CLOSER TO THE DOWNTOWN AREA. SEE SUPPLEMENTARY PICTURE, AND NOTE
ATTENDANCE.)
INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS ALSO DO A GREAT DEAL OF "CAMPAIGNING."
BESIDES THE TIGER JACKETS, RAINCOATS, RIBBONS, CUSHIONS, BUMPER
STICKERS, AND TIGER TAILS, SOME FAMILIES DECORATE THEIR HOMES WITH
BOTH MASS-PRODUCED AND HOME-MADE SIGNS, AS WELL AS OCCASIONAL THREE-
DIMENSIONAL EXHIBITS, SUCH AS A STUFFED BULLDOG WITH A NOOSE TIED
AROUND HIS NECK.
THE SITE OF THE GAME ALTERNATES YEARLY BETWEEN MASSILLON TIGER
STADIUM AND CANTON FAWCETT STADIUM, AND IS ALWAYS PLAYED ON A SATUR-
DAY AFTERNOON AT TWO O'CLOCK. (WHEREAS ALL THE OTHER GAMES ARE
PLAYED ON FRIDAY NIGHTS.) IT NEVER DRAWS LESS THAN A SELLOUT CROWD
OF OVER TWENTY THOUSAND, EVEN THOUGH IT IS ALWAYS BROADCAST LIVE ON
THE LOCAL TELEVISION STATION.
THE FANS COME AS MUCH AS TWO HOURS BEFORE THE START OF THE GAME,
BECAUSE OF THE TRAFFIC JAMS. BEFORE THE START OF THE GAME, THE LIVE
TIGER MEETS MCKINLEY'S LIVE BULLDOG, AS DO THEIR COSTUMED COUNTER-
PARTS. LARGE CRATES OF HELIUM-FILLED BALLOONS (ORANGE AND BLACK BY
MASSILLON, AND RED AND BLACK BY CANTON) ARE ALWAYS RELEASED. THE
MAJORETTES RECEIVE CARNATIONS, AND THE SENIOR BAND MEMBERS ARE GIVEN
A FAREWELL CEREMONY. DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS, AN AIRPLANE BEARING
A BANNER WITH THE "BEAT MCKINLEY" MESSAGE HAS FLOWN BACK AND FORTH
OVER THE STADIUM, ADDING ANOTHER TRADITION TO THE GAME. DURING
HALF-TIME, THE SWING BAND PLAYS "THE TIGER RAG," AND PERFORMS SOME
ROUTINES THEY HAVE DONE FOR DECADES.
THE NIGHT OF THE GAME IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST NIGHTS FOR CELEBRA-
TION IN STARK COUNTY. WIN OR LOSE, THE ADULTS AND TEENS ALL HAVE
THEIR RESPECTIVE GET-TOGETHERS. MANY CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS SPONSOR
DANCES, INDIVIDUAL HOMES HAVE PARTIES, AND IT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE
TO GET A RESTAURANT RESERVATION LESS THAN THREE TO FOUR WEEKS IN
ADVANCE OF THE GAME.
IN ADDITION TO CALLING ATTENTION TO THE EVENTS OF "BEAT MCKINLEY
WEEK," THE TOWN NEWSPAPER, THE EVENING INDEPENDENT, ALSO CARRIES OUT
CERTAIN TRADITIONS OF ITS OWN. ON THE DAY BEFORE THE BIG GAME, THE
INDEPENDENT SUPERIMPOSES THE WORDS "BEAT MCKINLEY" (IN BIG BLOCK
LETTERS PRINTED IN ORANGE) OVER THE FRONT-PAGE STORIES. ON NEARLY
EVERY OTHER PAGE (AND ESPECIALLY ON THE SPORT PAGE) THE COL-
UMNS OF THE PAPER ARE BORDERED WITH THE WORDS "BEAT MCKINLEY." ALSO,
THE PAST SCORES OF THE MASSILLON-CANTON GAME, FROM ITS ORIGIN IN
1894, ARE TRADITIONALLY PRINTED YEARLY. SOMETIME DURING THE COURSE
OF THE WEEK, PICTURES OF THE SENIORS PLAYING THEIR LAST GAME ARE
PRINTED.

Submitter comment: CANTON CELEBRATES "BEAT MASSILLON WEEK" IN MUCH THE SAME WAY AS
MASSILLON CELEBRATES "BEAT MCKINLEY WEEK." THERE IS ALWAYS A LITTLE
"RIBBING" (SOMETIMES FRIENDLY, SOMETIMES NOT) BETWEEN MASSILLONIANS
AND CANTONIANS. I MYSELF ATTENDED THE NEAREST CATHOLIC SCHOOL, WHICH
IS LOCATED BETWEEN CANTON AND MASSILLON. EVEN THERE, THOUGH WE HAD
FOOTBALL GAMES OF OUR OWN THE SAME WEEK, STUDENTS WOULD WEAR "BEAT
MASSILLON" AND "BEAT MCKINLEY" RIBBONS, DEPENDING ON THEIR ALLEGIANCE
AND IT WAS A SIMILAR SITUATION IN ALL THE SUBURBAN AND COUNTY
SCHOOLS.

Where learned: OHIO ; MASSILLON

James Callow Keyword(s): SPORTS FOOTBALL

Subject headings: Favorites
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Entertainment Diversion

Date learned: 11-00-1973

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