Thanksgiving 1924 was a good time for a hill climb

Thanksgiving 1924 was a good time for a hill climb

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A car trudges up East Broadway in the 1924 hill climb on Thanksgiving. Photo above from village archive

Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, football — and a car race?

An antique car makes its way during the Hill Climb at Port Jefferson's Heritage Weekend. Photo by Bob Savage
An antique car makes its way during the Hill Climb at Port Jefferson’s Heritage Weekend. Photo by Bob Savage

Turkey Day has its traditions, and for Port Jefferson one year in the Roaring ‘20s those included a hill-climbing contest. On the holiday in 1924, according to the Port Jefferson Village historical archive, automobiles raced up the steep hill of East Broadway, from the Newcomb Brothers Garage to the entrance of Belle Terre at Cliff Road.

Hill climbs up East Broadway had become a regular affair in the village, after the Automobile Club of Port Jefferson held its first one in June 1910. And contemporary Port Jefferson residents have experienced the fun, too — the village recreated the hill climb during its Heritage Weekend in August, sending antique and otherwise unique cars revving up the road. Some people got decked out in Victorian-era garb for the occasion.

The year of the Thanksgiving hill climb was a special one for New Yorkers in another way: The event was held on the same day one famous department store held its first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the city.

Port Jefferson Village had a completely different look in that era: The fire department headquarters was sandwiched between shops on Main Street, Port Jefferson High School was at its old location on Spring Street under the direction of supervising principal Earl L. Vandermeulen, and the harbor was being mined for sand.