Above: Delaware Academy's football field was illuminated on Friday for a nighttime football game at the school. Photos by Robert Cairns.
“Friday Night Lights” have become synonymous with high school football, but home games at Delaware Academy in the Delaware County town of Delhi have always been played on Saturday afternoons.
Until last week.
For the first time in recent memory, the Bulldogs played a home game under the lights on Friday, Oct. 2—a 22-6 loss to their arch-rival, the Walton Warriors.
The idea to light up Dave Kelly Field came from members of the Delhi Fire Department, according to Fire Chief Daren Evans. “A couple different people had a dream to have a night game at D.A.,” Evans said.
Evans said that Tim Murray, a fire department officer, worked with the school to set up the event and secured the donation of eight construction lighting towers. Firefighters set up the towers on Thursday night.
He said school officials “were very receptive” to the idea and “were a great help” in making it happen.
Looking at the result on Friday night, Evans said, “It worked. It looks like everything's lit up. It's kind of exciting.”
A good crowd turned out for the event and Evans said he was not surprised.
“A lot of people have been talking about it,” he said. “There's been a lot of anticipation.”
Above: Officers of the Delhi Fire Department were introduced during a pre-game ceremony.
On the hill above the field, a large U.S. flag hung between aerial ladder trucks owned by the Delhi and Walton fire departments. Members of those departments, as well as police officers, emergency medical personnel and military veterans, were introduced during a brief ceremony before the game.
Delaware Academy District Superintendent Jason Thomson called the event “a historic evening here at D.A.” He thanked the fire department for securing the donation of lights and said the game featured “two wonderful, storied football programs.”
Thomson said that “it took a bit of finagling” to move the game to Friday night, but that “everybody understood what we were trying to do and graciously made adjustments.”
Evans noted the participation of the Walton Fire Department, which sent officers and firefighters to participate in the ceremony and also sent the ladder truck.
“That's another nice thing,” he said. “It's good to work with neighboring departments, whether it's for an emergency or for fun.”
Thomson said that the nighttime game was also used to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, and that a percentage of proceeds from sales of food and merchandise would support that cause.
Above: Firefighters, emergency medical personnel, police and military veterans were honored before Friday night's Delhi-Walton football game.
“We try to teach our children that there's something bigger than us,” Thomson said. “Trying to do the right things and do right by people.”
The lights remained in place for one more night, as two soccer games were played on Saturday night.
Correction: Reader Gary Robson remembers that Delaware Academy played a night game against Windsor Central School on Oct. 5, 1962, when he was in middle school. We stand corrected--the Oct. 2 night game in Delhi wasn't the first one ever.