Red Carpet Bowl finds way to reinvent itself again
Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 21, 2014
When Porters Chapel Academy takes the field for its first-ever Red carpet Bowl appearance Friday afternoon, it’ll mark the beginning of a new era for the venerable Vicksburg institution.
That’s nothing new, though. Anything that endures for more than half a century is bound to go through some changes, and the Red Carpet Bowl is no exception.
The bowl game that started in 1962 has lasted through the administrations of 10 presidents. It’s flirted with extinction a time or two — once at the very beginning — yet always found a way to reinvent itself for its next phase of life.
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After a successful first game in 1962, the Red Carpet Bowl barely made it out of infancy. The 1963 game, between Noxubee County and South Pike, was a lopsided affair played in a driving rainstorm six days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Ticket sales were so poor that there was speculation whether the bowl game would return in 1964.
Twice, in 1975 and 1986, there was no game. The reason for the 1975 hiatus has been lost to history.
By ‘86, the RCB was being played during the playoffs, usually as a first-round game featuring either Vicksburg or Warren Central. The problem was, both teams went on the road and lost that season. No out-of-town teams, understandably, wanted to give up a home playoff game, so the Red Carpet Bowl once again went on a one-year hiatus.
Once again, it survived.
The playoff snafu was an omen for the RCB, and in 1992 it became a season-opening classic featuring Warren Central, Vicksburg and St. Aloysius.
St. Al dropped out three years later, but the doubleheader format continued until Porters Chapel joined the fray this year to make it a tripleheader again.
The coaches, players and administration at PCA are enthusiastic about being a part of the Red Carpet Bowl, as they should be. The game is a part of Vicksburg’s rich sports culture and history.
For 52 years — this will actually be the 50th RCB, if the two hiatus years are excluded — the game has served as a football festival and a charitable powerhouse.
From helping Leo Puckett, who was paralyzed during a game in the 1950s, to today’s scholarships, the Red Carpet Bowl and its committee have served the community well.
This year, the Red Carpet Bowl will issue more than a dozen scholarships worth $750 each to Warren County high school students — more than $11,000 total.
The proceeds from the football game and its basketball offspring in January are able to be poured back into the community because of the tireless efforts of its organizers, who donate time, skills and their own products and money to the cause.
That’s the kind of dedication it takes to keep something going for 52 years. Hopefully, it’ll go on for another 52.
Ernest Bowker is a reporter and can be reached by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 601-636-4545.